Catherine Martin criticised by opposition parties over RTÉ crisis

Catherine Martin Criticised By Opposition Parties Over Rté Crisis
The Social Democrats, the Labour Party and People Before Profit have all criticised the Media Minister.
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By Cate McCurry, PA

The Media Minister has been widely criticised by opposition parties over her handling of the latest RTÉ fallout.

Catherine Martin was accused of making a “serious blunder” after she went on live TV and refused to express confidence in Siún Ní Raghallaigh, the chairwoman of the RTÉ board.


Ms Martin is under pressure after Ms Ní Raghallaigh resigned from her position, and will face questions when she appears before the media committee on Tuesday evening.

The Social Democrats, the Labour Party and People Before Profit have all criticised Ms Martin over how she managed last week’s developments.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh resigned hours after Ms Martin refused to express confidence in her as head of the RTÉ board during an interview on Prime Time.


The minister said she had been misinformed on two occasions about Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s involvement in approving an exit package for a former RTÉ executive.

Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall said the Green Party minister has handled the latest fallout “very badly”.

“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Minister Martin made a serious blunder last Thursday by going on the Prime Time programme,” Ms Shortall said.

“That was very ill-judged in our view, and clearly she was seriously ill-informed about the background to the issue of the exit packages.


“We know now of course that the outgoing chair had notified her (media) department about the packages, the minister didn’t seem to be aware of that at all.



“We know also that officials from RTÉ and from the department were at the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) last October and discussed the new arrangements for approval of the exit packages.”

Ms Shortall also said it was “unfortunate” that the department’s former secretary general Katherine Licken will not attend Tuesday’s committee meeting to answer key questions about what department officials knew of the exit payments given to former executives.

“I think that’s very regrettable but there will be other officials there and we know that, not only was the secretary general informed, but that two other senior officials are also aware of this,” Ms Shortall added.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said that this “existential crisis” is of the minister’s own making.

“Minister Martin still has to answer the question as to why she went on Prime Time last Thursday night and effectively carried out a summary dismissal of the chairperson of the state board,” Ms Bacik said.

“We want to see questions and answers in the Dáil tomorrow, however, because there are so many questions, the key one remains why the minister took the peremptory action she did on Thursday night, having taken such a hands-off approach to the ongoing crisis in RTÉ for so long.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the fallout shows “a completely shambolic dysfunctional relationship” between the minister and RTÉ.

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“It is really stomach-churning for ordinary workers to hear about these absolutely enormous golden handshakes being given to executives, and we still can’t get to the bottom of who knew what, when, who signed off on these things, who approved them,” Mr Boyd Barrett said.

“We need to remember that this is public taxpayers’ money, taxpayers who never see these kinds of enormous salaries, six-figure salaries, enormous golden handshakes.

“So it is really outrageous at this stage that the government have failed to get a handle on this situation.”

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