RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes has resigned with immediate effect amid the ongoing controversy over undeclared payments made to former "The Late Late Show" host Ryan Tubridy.
"I regret very much the upset and adverse publicity suffered by RTÉ, its staff and the unease created among the public in recent days," Forbes said in a statement this morning, June 26.
"As Director General, I am the person ultimately accountable for what happens within the organisation and I take that responsibility seriously.
"I am tendering my resignation to RTÉ with immediate effect."
Forbes added: "At all times, I and the representatives of RTÉ acted in good faith."
She concluded her statement by saying: "Finally, I want to reiterate that I have engaged fully with the Board during this process.
"However, the Board has not treated me with anything approaching the levels of fairness, equity and respect that anyone should expect as an employee, a colleague or a person. All of this has had a very serious and ongoing impact on my health and wellbeing.
"I am deeply sorry for what has happened and my part in this episode and for that I apologise unreservedly to everyone.
"I care very deeply about RTÉ, the people who work for it, the public it serves, its mission, values, its unique position as a public service broadcaster and its reputation. I will continue to do so as RTÉ moves forward under the new Director General."
Forbes was suspended by the RTÉ Board last Wednesday, June 21 after RTÉ's auditors alerted the board to a series of payments made to Tubridy over a five-year period. She was due to step down from her role in July.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said that Forbes should appear before Oireachtas committees this week to answer questions about the scandal.
RTÉ has been invited to appear before Oireachtas Media Committee on Wednesday and the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, June 29.
Meanwhile, Minister for Media Catherine Martin has announced an independent external review of corporate finance at RTÉ after news broke of the scandal.
Martin described the story as "shocking," adding that it has done untold damage to RTÉ's reputation.
This week’s revelations at RTÉ signal potential deeper challenges in the organisation
I have decided to commission an external independent review into the governance & culture at RTÉ
Full statement following my meeting with RTÉ Chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh:https://t.co/5uRTxRjRxy— Catherine Martin TD (@cathmartingreen) June 24, 2023
Unions at RTÉ have welcomed the external review, while the National Union of Journalists has said that any review should be undertaken in a transparent and timely manner.
RTÉ announced last week that Tubridy's earnings for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019 were understated by €120,000, while earnings for the years 2020-2022 were understated due to the payments which went through a Barter Account.
A commercial partner paid Tubridy €75,000 per year in return for three appearances annually. In 2020, Tubridy made the appearances and received payments from the commercial partner, who received a credit note from RTÉ for airtime.
However, the commercial partner informed RTÉ that they would not continue with the deal in 2021 and 2022, forcing RTÉ to pay Tubridy directly as they had underwritten and guaranteed the deal.
In her statement on Monday, Forbes said that she led the negotiations with Tubridy's agent together with other senior RTÉ executives, stating that they were keen to make a "cost saving for RTÉ in respect of a contractual payment which was due to be paid."
However, Forbes said they were also attempting to retain Tubridy's services, who they saw as a valued presenter. She added that they aimed to reduce his salary by 15%.
"In an effort to find a solution to the budgetary challenges, we explored if a long-serving commercial partner might take on a commercial relationship directly with Ryan Tubridy," Forbes said in the statement.
"Following detailed discussions including numerous internal communications over many months with RTÉ colleagues, including finance and legal colleagues, an agreement was reached which delivered cost savings for RTÉ.
"This agreement meant that the commercial partner would enter into a separate commercial contract with Ryan Tubridy for €75k in exchange for the provision of three events annually.
"As a result of the negotiated cost-saving agreement, RTÉ would no longer be liable for a contractual payment that was due in 2020. This new commercial agreement required that RTÉ guarantee and underwrite the €75K payments.
"The commercial partner agreed to this new business relationship with Ryan Tubridy, but they required the change to be cost-neutral, as they were in the final year of a three-year sponsorship contract and this was done by issuing a credit note for €75k against their airtime.
"The commercial partner informed us that the commercial arrangement was not going to work for them in the long term. At this point, only one €75k payment had been made," she added.
She said the responsibility for the €75,000 payments in 2021 and 2022 then fell to RTÉ, even though the broadcaster had never expected to be liable for them and had not budgeted for them.
"Because of the commercial nature of the arrangement, it was decided to pay the invoices from the commercial barter account which was in credit. We were motivated purely by the need to find a solution to honor the contractual obligation."