AN INDEPENDENT review into governance and culture at RTÉ has been ordered by the Irish Government after it was revealed the broadcaster failed to fully declare payments to Ryan Tubridy.
Catherine Martin, Minster for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, said the revelations had 'caused untold damage to RTE's reputation'.
It was revealed on Friday that Dee Forbes, Director General of RTÉ, was suspended on Wednesday, June 21 — a day before the scandal unfolded.
Speaking on Friday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there appears to have been 'a serious breach of trust and truth between RTÉ and the Government, the Oireachtas and the people'.
Meanwhile, Mr Tubridy denied any wrongdoing, saying all his earnings from RTÉ have always been included in full in his accounts.
The story unfolded on Thursday when the RTÉ Board revealed the broadcaster had paid Mr Tubridy €345,000 more than it had previously declared.
In a statement, the RTÉ Board said the issue was uncovered in March this year during a routine account audit, prompting it to commission an independent fact-finding review.
According to the board, RTÉ understated Mr Tubridy's earnings from 2017-19 by €120,000, while it failed to declare three subsequent payments of €75,000 each.
One was from a commercial partner, while two were made from an RTÉ Barter Account following the end of the commercial partner's sponsorship agreement.
On Thursday, Mr Tubridy said the issue was 'a matter for RTÉ' but later added that he should have questioned the difference between his payments and what RTÉ had claimed he earned.
"While I have no responsibility for the corporate governance in RTÉ or how or what they publish in their accounts, when my earnings were published, I should have asked questions at the time and sought answers as to the circumstances which resulted in incorrect figures being published," he said.
"I didn't, and I bear responsibility for my failure to do so. For this, I apologise unreservedly."
Mr Tubridy added: "For the avoidance of doubt, all my earnings from RTÉ have at all times been included in my company's accounts that were prepared by my accountant and filed with the Companies Registration Office and all my taxes are up to date."
The host added that the issue had not contributed to his recent decision to step down from his role as presenter of The Late Late Show and also disputed suggestions that he had not taken a pay cut.
Mr Tubridy said that over the last 11 years, his RTÉ pay had been cut by approximately 40 per cent.
He also said that he was disappointed over the broadcaster's decision that he not present his radio show this week.
'Public trust must be rebuilt'
On Saturday, Minister Martin met with RTÉ Chair, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, during which she 'impressed upon the chair that rebuilding trust and confidence is now paramount'.
While she welcomed RTÉ's decision to commission an external review into the pay of its 10 highest paid presenters, she ordered a separate external review into governance and culture at the broadcaster.
"The purpose of this review will be to determine what fundamental or systemic issues need to be addressed, including the adequacy of internal controls," said Minister Martin.
"While as Minister I cannot get involved in the day-to-day operation of RTÉ, I do need assurance that the governance and culture is fit for purpose.
"Public trust in RTÉ must be rebuilt.
"Therefore, a government decision on the future funding model for public service broadcasting has been paused until such time as this review is complete and the findings considered."
On Friday, RTÉ said it would not comment further on the position of Director General Ms Forbes, other than to confirm she had been suspended 48 hours earlier.
"There are processes ongoing and RTÉ must be mindful of its legal responsibilities and the rights of individuals," read a statement from the broadcaster.