RTÉ’s latest annual report for 2022 must be published without delay as gaps in crucial detail of the broadcaster payments controversy still remain, according to Fine Gael Senator Micheal Carrigy.
Senator Carrigy, a member of the Oireachtas media committee, said: “Shocking revelations regarding financial practices at RTÉ have eroded public trust and confidence in the broadcaster.
“The differing version of events and a labyrinth of complex information that has been drip fed out to media and various Oireachtas committees by former and current staff members from RTÉ has led to further questions and confusion.
“According to documents provided this week to the Public Accounts Committee by RTÉ, the Director of Commercial had oversight of the barter account that was used to pay out hundreds of thousands of euro on hospitality and entertainment, including sports events, hotel stays and lavish dinners in top restaurants by the broadcaster.
“Until the appointment of Chief financial officer Richard Collins in 2020, the barter account was not reflected in RTE’s financial statement. It was then that he asked that it be brought into the year end financial statements to increase transparency and to ensure it was recorded in the accounts.
“Since April of this year it has been brought under the finance function of RTÉ. A note on the barter account and all transactions were supplied to the PAC and media committee but a lot of that information was heavily redacted.
“The timing is key as it was in early March, that an issue with two specific invoices arose and this gave rise to the Grant Thornton report that detailed undisclosed payments to Mr Tubridy.
“RTE’s annual report for 2022 is among the missing pieces of the puzzle related to this sorry saga at the broadcaster as it will contain all financial statements related to last year including cash flow statements, changes in equity and the broadcaster’s overall financial position.
“It would also be helpful if RTÉ included the salaries last year for the RTÉ executive board which was stood down this week by the new Director General Kevin Bakhurst.
“RTÉ has already committed to publishing the salaries of the Executive/permanent Interim Leadership Team along with the earnings of RTÉ’s 10 highest paid presenters in our annual report every year, starting with Annual Report 2023.
“Current Chair of the RTÉ Board, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, confirmed at Thursday’s meeting of the PAC that all financial statements for 2022 have been submitted to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
“It is essential now that the Media Minister along with her officials undertake a comprehensive examination of these documents and that they are published without any undue delay,” Senator Carrigy said.