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More Former RTE Execs Refuse To Appear Before Media Committee

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Former chair of the RTÉ board, Moya Doherty, has rejected a request to appear before the Oireachtas Media Committee for ‘personal and family reasons’.

Politicians on the Oireachtas Media Committee are set to grill RTÉ executives and board members on Tuesday for a seventh time since issues of financial governance at the station emerged last year.

RTÉ management spent over 25 hours in Oireachtas hearings last year and it will continue into 2024, with the Media Committee keen to gain clarity around the Toy Show Musical commercial failure that proceeded without board approval or interrogation. But Ms Doherty has refused an invitation to attend the Media Committee for questioning.

Former Chairperson of the RTE board Moya Doherty arriving to give evidence at Leinster House in July 2023. Pic: PA Images

‘I regret that for personal and family reasons I will be unable to accept the invitation,’ she told the committee. Ms Doherty was the Chair of the governing board of RTÉ for eight years before she stepped down in 2022 and was present during the period when the Toy Show musical was created by RTÉ.

The Riverdance creator previously defended the commercial musical flop, which lost €2.2m, in front of politicians where she also revealed she had no knowledge of the existence of a barter account in her tenure as chair.

Ms Doherty now joins a list of former RTÉ executives who are refusing to come before politicians on Tuesday, including the former director of strategy Rory Coveney, who was involved in the Toy Show Musical.

RTE former chief financial officer Breda O'Keeffe (left) and former Chairperson of the board Moya Doherty arriving to give evidence to the Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media at Leinster House in July 2023
RTE former chief financial officer Breda OíKeeffe (left) and former Chairperson of the board Moya Doherty arriving to give evidence to the Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media at Leinster House in July 2023. Pic: PA Images

In a letter, Mr Coveney said he attended three hearings of Oireachtas committee in July ‘for a total of close to fourteen hours as part of an RTÉ delegation, answering any questions put to me.’ He declined the invitation and said that he ‘cooperated fully and extensively’ with independent auditors compiling a report into the musical.

The former chief financial officer of RTÉ Breda O’Keeffe has also rejected the committee’s invite saying that she has been subjected to ‘excessive and intense media intrusion into both my personal and professional life’.

Rory Coveney. Pic: Norma Burke/RollingNews.ie
Rory Coveney. Pic: Norma Burke/RollingNews.ie

This comes as an independent report into a redundancy package received by Ms O’Keeffe found that it did not comply with redundancy payments, and it was not signed off by the Executive board. Vice Chair of the Media C­ommittee and FG TD Alan Dillon said the rejections from the Chair and former members of the top management team in RTÉ are a source of ‘frustration’.

Mr Dillon said it is ‘extremely disappointing’ that the former chair and several former executives are not coming before politicians tomorrow.

Meanwhile, former director general Dee Forbes’ solicitors have responded to the committee to say she is ‘under medical and psychological care and is receiving treatment,’ and will also not be attending Tuesday’s hearing.

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