Editor's note: This article was submitted by an IrishCentral Storyteller, Patricia Kileen, an Irish ex-pat and former editor who has lived in Paris, long-term.

Apologies if I have not grasped the Tubs Gate situation accurately. I'm aware I'm leaving myself open to a stoning here, however, I can't help but feel Ireland currently resembles a guilty classroom. "Yes, I was a bit wrong teacher, but it really wasn't me/us it was Noel Kelly (Ryan Tubridy‘s agent), it was Renault, Dee Forbes, RTÉ etc.” The person currently caught in the floodlights is Ryan Tubridy, for accepting the money, he was promised!

Headlines are getting wilder by the minute; a June 30th Irish Times subtitle read “Broadcaster’s chairwoman brands spending on corporate hospitality ‘outrageous’ as Oireachtas scrutinizes use of Tubridy hidden payments account to entertain advertisers”.

What I believe they meant is RTÉ used the same United Kingdom bank account, as a sports slush fund, to also make their controversial payments to Turbidy. However, the way Turbidy’s name is brandished in that subtitle is misleading. It is starting to reek of a McCarthyism-type witch-hunt. Moreover, how does it help the county, throwing both RTÉ and Turbidy on a pyre?

Of course, accountability is essential; however, tarring and feathering the man, who developed "The Toy Show", into RTÉ's most-watched program, with 1.6 million viewers and people tuning in from over 139 countries, might not be the smartest way to go. Tubridy is as much the face of Ireland abroad, as is any Irish politician.

My heart goes out to the people who were laid off from RTÉ and employees who suffered salary cuts, which I believe were initiated around 2009 to implement budget restrictions due to Ireland’s economy being in the doldrums. However, as far as I know, by 2017, Ireland had left those doldrums behind her and comhghairdeachas (congratulations) for that!

Couldn’t the government have subsequently loosened their purse strings, for their own national broadcaster, when you think of the over one trillion, since 2019, in foreign direct investment flowing into the country?

Even when Tubridy’s annual salary was at its highest in 2008 (€533,333), it was modest when compared with for e.g., Jimmy Fallon’s yearly salary of $16 million, i.e., a monthly salary of $1,333,333 and a weekly salary of $307,692 (281,680€). Tubidy's current annual salary of €440,000 in both 2021 and 2022 (plus the controversial annual payments of €75,000) comes into a different light when compared with foreign TV stars, whose ranks he may be forced to join.

I am aware it is ridiculous to compare RTÉ with NBC; however, it’s not absurd to compare Tubridy with Fallon, our Irish media stars have often proved they are up there with the best.

Among others, Sir Terry Wogan added digits to his salary, when he hopped across the pond. During his time with "The Late Late Show", I imagine Tubridy received attractive offers from abroad, but whether due to a loyalty he might now regret, or by being a home bird, he stayed put at "The Late Late Show" for 14 years, before resigning but continuing his RTE radio show, until recent disclosures led to him being "temporarily replaced".

The controversial extra annual payments of €75,000, from RTÉ to Tubridy from 2017-2022, (totaling €375,000) are peanuts considering what he could earn on the global TV stage. Would most employees have refused an extra annual payment in Tubridy’s situation? Of course, that in no way detracts from the incorrectness of under-the-table bookkeeping and lack of transparency.

Perhaps, RTÉ should have been more forceful with the government, admitting that yes there had to be pay cuts for top presenters, but pointing out that putting pressure on some of them to accept or to volunteer for pay cuts of up to 30%, risked the best walking, or their agents suggesting alternative ways for remuneration.

Advertising revue is essential – in 2006 Wogan, then the highest-paid BBC radio presenter with an £800,000 a year salary, said, “If you do the maths, factoring in the number of listeners, I cost the BBC about 2p a fortnight. I think I’m cheap at the price!”

With approximately, 1,38 million viewers when Tubridy hosted "The Late Late Show", plus 1,65 million listeners per week (331,00 per day) for "The Ryan Tubridy Radio Show", and 1.6 million for "The Toy Show"perhaps Tubridy, could have adopted similar bravado?

RTÉ was paying Pat Kenny €900,000 back in 2004, of course, that was before the pay cuts, but even if you deduct the then non existing 30% cut, that would mean a salary of €630,000 -19 years ago! By concentrating so much on pounds, shillings and pence, are we forgetting what TV and radio is all about? En-ter-tain-ment!

I believe that Tubridy is one of the most talented presenters of our generation, up there with Gaybo himself, but without the acerbity. However, after this soul-destroying mess, how will he present?

In the Irish media, Tubridy is being accused of lacking morality and lying by omission. I think his custom of downplaying his stardom, may have let him down.

I have seen him twice in person (2022 and 2023) in Paris at Irish in France (IIF) Saint Patrick’s Day events, held in the Irish Cultural Center (CCI). Except for having my punter shot taken with him, I do not know him personally, and I was surprised that he unexpectedly mingled from morning to night, on both SPD’s full-day events, expertly honing in on the people that it counted the most for, to give not only the five, but often the twenty plus minutes, of attention.

His interest in people and kindness in their regard seems genuine. That trait may have paradoxically contributed to making him the star he is while depriving him of the star-clad, distanced protection of the Jimmy Fallons of the world. It is as if Tubridy belongs to the Irish people and anyone, can now have a swing at him, glowing in self-righteousness, mixed with a tad of glee.

I love reading Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times and can empathize to a degree with his 27th June article. However, I am in total disagreement with the last three paragraphs, which commence that Tubridy should not "return to the air. You can’t betray your colleagues, your listeners and viewers, and the people who own and pay for the station you work for, and just go back to being our genial host”.

However, as shown in a recent Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks poll, 73 percent of people believe the RTÉ executive board as a whole bears most blame for the secret payments scandal, and only 7 percent blamed Tubridy himself.

Why are Irish newspapers flinging an excellent TV/radio presenter under the bus because of RTÉ's dodgy bookkeeping and because he did not speak up? RTE were at fault, but maybe standing up for themselves, for their employees and yes, for their stars could have been an alternative route. I hope that they will get their books straightened out and that they take a swing back and along with new transparency, suggest a more realistic budget going forward. RTÉ's excellence in entertainment may exceed its current operational budget, hence leaving the door open for dodgy bean counting. Most concerned are admitting their “sins” of commission or omission. Let’s also remember, although it's the Irish public service broadcaster, RTÉ is actually peddling show business, and is not an nth department of the Civil Service! 

Covid, as in so many things left its stamp on what has become Tubs Gate. Fintan O’Toole’s article of 1st July recounts how RTÉ had initially promised Tubridy the annual 75,000€ from a sponsor deal with Renault. At that time, they stated, if Renault didn’t come up with the money, (which transpired when Renault pulled sponsorship in 2021 due to Covid) RTÉ committed to coughing it up themselves…

I sincerely hope RTÉ employees won’t be subjected to more austerity, pay cuts, job losses or delocalization, and that this scandal won’t destroy both RTÉ and Tubridy. On 27th June, the Irish Mirror stated, “Would the last person leaving RTÉ please turn out the lights. The national broadcaster is now a dead duck and will never ever regain the trust of the public that it enjoyed for years”.

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