Ministers back Catherine Martin amid pressure over ‘on-air firing’

Ministers Back Catherine Martin Amid Pressure Over ‘On-Air Firing’
The Minister for Media has been accused by opposition politicians of ‘summarily dismissing’ the chairwoman of the RTÉ board live on air. Photo: PA
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha and Cate McCurry, PA

Cabinet ministers have backed Minister for Media, Catherine Martin as she comes under political pressure after the resignation of the RTÉ board chairwoman.

Siún Ní Raghallaigh resigned in the early hours of Friday after Ms Martin said she had been “misinformed” about the details of a former RTÉ executive’s exit package, during a TV interview.


She has said that she needed to keep her commitment to appear on RTÉ Prime Time on Thursday, and that the seriousness of the situation meant a phone call with Ms Ni Raghallaigh was not possible.

Opposition parties have criticised her handling of the situation, with Labour calling her position “now untenable”.



Labour’s Marie Sherlock has said Ms Martin’s TV interview amounted to “summarily dismissing” the chairwoman of the RTÉ board live on air, while the Public Accounts Committee chairman said the minister “jumped the gun a bit”.

The Social Democrats’ leader Holly Cairns said Ms Martin “showed a lamentable lack of judgment” by going through with the RTÉ interview, accusing her of “effectively (firing) her live on air”.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy and People Before Profit have called on Ms Martin to answer questions in the Dáil next week.


Three senior ministers have backed Ms Martin, and said some of the commentary about the Green Party deputy leader was “glib” and unfair.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said Ms Martin had “handled this in the best way possible” and had “laid out the facts” during the TV interview.



“Last night she had committed to an interview she followed through on, and outlined a number of conversations that happened this week. Further information came to light that she had not been aware of.”

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said his party colleague had his full confidence and had been “transparent”.

“To be absolutely clear, when I look at the work Catherine has done in terms of the two expert bodies, looking at governance and culture in RTÉ, remuneration and pay in RTÉ and the work Catherine is doing in terms of looking to bring a sustainable funding model to RTÉ, she has my full confidence.”


Asked whether Ms Martin’s handling of her department was in question, Minister for Further Education Simon Harris said: “I don’t believe it is, I believe Catherine Martin is a good minister.

“I know Catherine Martin to be a very diligent, very hardworking, very honest person and I think some of the glib commentary today from some in opposition is unfair.”


Labour Senator Marie Sherlock said that from the beginning of the crisis, Ms Martin “has been on the back foot” and “failed to ask the most basic questions”.

She said that any information in the Department of Media about the approval of exit packages should be “published in full immediately”.

“The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste must now reflect on the Media Minister’s handling of this whole debacle and ask, is she the person to ensure that necessary reforms take place in RTÉ that will be crucial to its survival, and is she the person who can restore public trust in the State broadcaster?”

Public Accounts Committee chairperson Brian Stanley said the minister “jumped the gun a bit” and “should have kept her powder dry” and waited to meet Ms Ní Raghallaigh.

“The minister should have waited, I believe, until she had the opportunity to speak with Siun Ni Raghallaigh and to hear exactly what Siún Ni Raghallaigh had to say.

“And then she could make her judgment on whether she had confidence or not.”

He said that Ms Ni Raghallaigh had made a “very comprehensive statement” that raised further questions.

“The minister may have made the right decision, the minister may have not made the right decision, but what I’m saying is there’s a number of lines in (Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s statement) that raise questions, and the minister should have waited to thrash that out with Siun Ni Raghallaigh to get to the bottom of it.

“When a minister goes on television without any notice, I presume, to Siún Ní Raghallaigh or anyone else, and doesn’t express confidence, refuses to express confidence in the head of the board at RTÉ, that creates a whole new situation.”

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