RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, has initiated an external review of its voluntary exit schemes, with the findings expected to be reported by the end of September. The review, commissioned by Director General Kevin Bakhurst, will investigate whether the terms of the schemes were adhered to in all cases where staff were offered a package. The decision to conduct the review follows concerns raised about the schemes after it was revealed that former Chief Financial Officer Breda O’Keeffe had been offered a departure package in 2020 without the approval of the broadcaster’s former executive. The National Union of Journalists has also sought clarification on the terms of O’Keeffe’s exit deal.
O’Keeffe, who had served at RTÉ for 18 years, left the broadcaster in 2020. In a message to staff, Bakhurst informed them that Bob Semple had been appointed to advise the interim leadership team on corporate governance reform. Regarding the review of the voluntary exit schemes, Bakhurst confirmed that the review had commenced and was being conducted by McCann Fitzgerald, a legal firm. He expressed his desire for the report to be completed by the end of September and assured that the conclusions would be shared with staff, trade unions, managers’ associations, public representatives, and the media. However, he noted that any necessary exclusions required by data protection legislation would be observed.
The review will examine the context in which the 2017 and 2021 schemes were implemented, as well as their operation and whether they resulted in cost savings for the broadcaster. Additionally, it will investigate whether individuals who accepted voluntary exit offers received appropriate tax-free statutory redundancy payments. Furthermore, the review will scrutinize any public statements made by RTÉ relating to its exit schemes.
This review aims to provide transparency and ensure that the voluntary exit schemes at RTÉ were implemented in accordance with the agreed terms and regulations. It is crucial to address any concerns raised regarding the approval process and to ascertain whether cost savings were achieved as intended. The findings of the review will shed light on these matters and contribute to the ongoing efforts to improve corporate governance within the broadcaster.
The National Union of Journalists’ request for clarification on Breda O’Keeffe’s exit deal underscores the need for transparency and accountability in the handling of such schemes. As a prominent public institution, RTÉ must maintain the highest standards of integrity and ensure that all decisions regarding staff departures are fair and in compliance with relevant policies.
The outcome of this review will not only provide answers to the questions raised but will also serve as a guide for future decision-making processes at RTÉ. By learning from any shortcomings or irregularities identified, the broadcaster can strengthen its internal procedures and bolster public trust in its operations.
It is essential that the conclusions of the report are shared with all relevant stakeholders, including staff, trade unions, managers’ associations, public representatives, and the media. This will allow for a comprehensive understanding of the findings and facilitate an open dialogue on the steps required to address any issues that may be identified.
As the review progresses, it is crucial that the process is conducted with the utmost professionalism and adherence to the highest journalistic standards. The public’s confidence in RTÉ’s commitment to transparency and accountability relies on the thoroughness and impartiality of this review.
In conclusion, the external review of RTÉ’s voluntary exit schemes is an important step towards ensuring fairness, transparency, and adherence to regulations. By conducting a comprehensive analysis of the schemes and their implementation, RTÉ can address any concerns raised and work towards improving its corporate governance practices. The findings of the review will provide valuable insights and contribute to the ongoing efforts to uphold the broadcaster’s reputation as a trusted source of news and information.