Ryan Tubridy apologizes for not questioning RTÉ payments
RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy has apologized for not questioning payments made to him which were higher than publicly pronounced.
Mr. Tubridy was paid €345,000 (£296,800) more than had been published in earnings reports, the Irish national broadcaster admitted on Thursday.
The RTÉ board said its chief general Dee Forbes had been suspended on Wednesday over the controversy.
The presenter received the money between 2017 and 2022 and the payments were uncovered when auditors raised concerns.
In a proclamation given on Friday, Mr. Tubridy said he had “no responsibility for the corporate governance in RTÉ or how or what they publish in their accounts”.
However, he admitted he should have asked questions when the incorrect figures were published by the broadcaster.
For a number of years, RTÉ has published the earnings, external of its top presenters.
“I didn’t, and I bear responsibility for my failure to do so. For this, I apologize unreservedly,” Mr. Tubridy added.
The presenter said his earnings have been properly recorded in his company accounts and that all of his taxes “are up to date”.
Ms. Forbes had been due to step down as the broadcaster’s director general next month.
The board said there were “processes ongoing and RTÉ must be mindful of its legal responsibilities and the rights of individuals”.
“RTÉ will not be commenting further on this issue at this time,” it said.
Ms Forbes responded to her suspension on Friday saying she had “fully engaged” with the RTÉ board and is proud of her contribution as director general.
Mr. Tubridy recently stood down as the host of RTÉ One’s The Late Late Show, Ireland’s longest-running TV chat show, with Northern Ireland comedian Patrick Kielty announced as his replacement.
In Friday’s statement, Mr. Tubridy said the controversy over his earnings had no bearing on his decision to stand down from the role.
Mr. Tubridy also presents a radio program on weekday mornings on RTÉ Radio 1 but did not host it on Friday and will not be on air next week.
Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar said there has been a “serious breach of trust and truth between RTÉ and the government, the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) and the people”.
Irish Media Minister Catherine Martin is set to meet with the RTÉ chairperson, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, on Saturday.
Mr. Varadkar said the minister will ask Ms. Ní Raghallaigh to outline in detail what has taken place and what steps the board is now taking.
“The public are right to expect high standards of transparency and accountability from RTÉ as it is extremely important that we can all have trust in our public service broadcasting,” the taoiseach added.
Former RTÉ board chairwoman Moya Doherty has said that neither she nor other board members had any “knowledge relating to certain payments” by the broadcaster and the “profoundly serious lack of transparency involved”.
The matters “go to the heart of a failure of good corporate governance”, she added.
She said that she was not made aware of the payments to Mr. Tubridy before she concluded her term in November 2022.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) who work at RTÉ held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the revelations about the payments.
Afterward, the union’s Irish secretary Séamus Dooley said what had happened had caused “upset, anger, and resentment right across the organization”.
He described the situation as “grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented in scale”.
In April RTÉ appointed former senior BBC News editor Kevin Bakhurst as its new director general.
Mr. Bakhurst is due to take over from Ms. Forbes next month.