Ryan Tubridy, the former host of the Late Late Show, appeared before the Media Committee for the second time, accompanied by his agent Noel Kelly. Tubridy confirmed that he is still being paid by RTÉ, despite not hosting his radio show since the scandal broke three weeks ago. However, he expressed concerns about his job security, stating that he could be out of a job by Friday.
During the committee hearing, Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan questioned Kelly about two €75,000 invoices raised as consultancy fees by his company CMS. O’Sullivan suggested that there were doubts about whether Tubridy knowingly worked with RTÉ to conceal these payments. Kelly responded by stating that there were deceptive practices on the part of RTÉ and that they were instructed by the broadcaster to handle the invoices. He emphasized that CMS is a small company compared to RTÉ, which has a budget of €350 million.
Tubridy, when asked about his definition of himself as a broadcaster versus a consultant, stated that he sees himself primarily as a broadcaster and is unsure of the dictionary definition of consultancy. He expressed full faith in his agent and stated that they would never have discussed the €75,000 payments as consultancy fees.
The committee also questioned Kelly about RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst’s statement that he would “in all likelihood” not work with him again. Kelly responded by saying that he is the shop steward for his clients and that Bakhurst’s statement was not a definitive refusal to work with him.
Tubridy was asked about a letter from former DG Dee Forbes, in which she stated that there would be no further reduction in his earnings. This raised concerns among committee members, as other colleagues in RTÉ were taking pay cuts. Tubridy explained that he had already taken a 40% pay cut since 2012 and that the terms mentioned in the letter were requested after he decided not to take a €120,000 loyalty payment.
The issue of the tripartite agreement between RTÉ, Tubridy, and Renault was also discussed. Kelly stated that he had never come across a barter system before this and that he was told by RTÉ not to put any person’s name on the invoice. He believed that the cash would be coming from Renault and that the invoices were to be sent to UK barter company Astus. When questioned about his role as the conduit for these secret payments, Kelly responded that it is an RTÉ issue and that he is washing his hands of it.
Tubridy addressed the committee about waiving the €120,000 loyalty fee, stating that he didn’t want to be paid for work he didn’t do. He clarified that the payment had been made to him for outstanding work due to Renault and that if it is not completed, it will be repaid.
Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster questioned Tubridy about the reality of his pay cut, considering the tripartite agreement. Tubridy emphasized that he has taken pay cuts since 2012 and that there has been confusion and misreporting on this issue. He stated that he is trying to rectify the situation and defend himself.
Tubridy expressed his concern about the money apparently being paid to him coming from the public purse. He talked about the deal with Renault, stating that he never wanted RTÉ to underwrite it and that Renault was always supposed to pay for it. He emphasized that they never thought RTÉ would pay for it.
When asked about concealing information, Tubridy denied any involvement and stated that he was not party to any concealment. He mentioned the support he has received from the public and clarified that there have been no overpayments, only over-statements of payments by RTÉ.
Kelly admitted that he might have asked more questions about invoicing RTÉ in the manner they wanted, but he trusted the national broadcaster. He stated that he did not know the people at RTÉ personally and that they are not his friends.
Tubridy addressed the issue of his contract, stating that it still stands until 2025, although negotiations for a new contract for his radio work have been suspended since he stepped down from the Late Late Show.
In conclusion, Tubridy reiterated that he did not appear before the committee to criticize RTÉ, as he has been working there since he was 12 years old. He expressed his desire to defend himself and clarify the misunderstandings surrounding the scandal.