RTÉ’s chair has to be the hottest seat in town

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Who would take on the job of RTÉ chair after the debacle of the past week? The national broadcaster seems to be without as many key players as the Galway senior football team – and losing board members at the same rate as the team is losing games in the league.

Sticking with the metaphor, the manner in which Media Minister Catherine Martin took down Siún Ní Raghallaigh on RTÉ’s Prime Time last Thursday night would have merited a black card in most GAA games.

Instead, the impact of it was that Ní Raghallaigh had to brandish a red card to herself shortly after midnight on Friday morning and take herself completely off the pitch.

Eight months after the RTÉ Board disclosed that secret payments had been made to Ryan Turbridy, the crisis surrounding the national broadcaster continues without any sign of abating.

To say it has been a massive distraction from more important issues is like saying Galway City enjoys light traffic.

However, that said, the turn of events last week was of a more serious nature.

I know Siún Ní Raghallaigh from her involvement in Irish-language broadcasting and production over many years and know her to be a person of the utmost integrity and honesty. She was a really good cathaoirleach in RTÉ.

That said, she made several mistakes. Until last year, it was the senior executives in RTÉ who made the decisions in relation to severance packages. Then in autumn the board assumed responsibility for signing off on those packages, through its remuneration committee. Siún Ní Raghallaigh also chaired that committee.

Just for context, the Department’s line was that it was not aware of the policy change. So last week, Siún Ní Raghallaigh said the board did not have a role in deciding severance packages but would have one in future. She said it to the Minister on Monday and then again on Wednesday.

Pictured: Minister Catherine Martin appearing before the Oireachtas Media Committee on Tuesday.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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