Government wary of sacking RTÉ executive board over legal issues

Government Wary Of Sacking Rté Executive Board Over Legal Issues
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, © PA Wire/PA Images
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Kenneth Fox

Sacking RTÉ’s executive board could leave the State open to legal battles and significant payouts, senior Government sources have said.

With pressure mounting for heads to roll, the Government is fearful direct intervention could backfire ahead of three independent reviews into the hidden payments scandal at the broadcaster.


As the Irish Examiner reports a source said: “Sacking them all is the easiest thing to do but rarely the right thing to do,"

They could have grounds for constructive dismissal if sacked without due process and grounds in each individual case — compensation, legal fees, and all of that. Also, then you’re left in limbo with senior posts vacant for months.

Another Cabinet minister said they did not believe executives would be sacked following a meeting to be held later on Thursday.

Minister for Culture, Catherine Martin will hold an emergency meeting with incoming director general (DG) Kevin Bakhurst, interim DG Adrian Lynch, and chairwoman of the board Siún Ní Raghallaigh.


She said the drip feed of information has further eroded the RTÉ board’s “trust and confidence in the executive” and the board has requested “swift action be taken”.

Grant Thornton is to conduct an investigation into Toy Show: The Musical after it emerged that the production lost €2.2 million.

The move follows another day of explosive revelations, including that RTÉ operated not one but three barter accounts — Astus, Active, and Miroma. Over the last 10 years, €1.6 million was spent on clients and hospitality.

Documentation shows thousands of euro were spent on a mix of flip-flops, alcohol, lavish hotel stays, an elite London social club, balloons, and tickets for matches and concerts from the “slush fund” between 2012 and last year.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil he has confidence in the RTÉ executive board for now but said he would be reserving the right to change his position “based on what happens in the coming days”.

He warned that due process must be afforded to senior members of RTÉ as condemning an entire executive board would “not only be unfair but would potentially leave the State open to compensation claims under constructive dismissal”.

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