Dee Forbes resigns as RTÉ Director-General 'with immediate effect'

"I led the discussions with the agent for Ryan Tubridy together with other RTÉ senior executives"
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.04 26 Jun 2023

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Dee Forbes resigns as RTÉ Dire...

Dee Forbes resigns as RTÉ Director-General 'with immediate effect'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.04 26 Jun 2023

Share this article

Dee Forbes said she has resigned as Director-General of RTÉ 'with immediate effect'.

The outgoing boss was suspended earlier this month after revelations came to light that the national broadcaster paid host Ryan Tubridy €345,000 more than it declared between 2017 and 2022.

The Government has announced an external review into governance and culture at the organisation, and RTÉ has been invited to appear before the Oireachtas Media Committee on Wednesday.


Ms Forbes has been requested to attend.

In a statement on Monday, she said she regrets "the upset and adverse publicity" suffered by RTÉ.

"As Director-General, I am the person ultimately accountable for what happens within the organisation and I take that responsibility seriously," she said

"I am tendering my resignation to RTÉ with immediate effect.

"I have engaged with and consistently co-operated with the processes directed towards answering questions surrounding payments to Ryan Tubridy.

"Much of the information in the Grant Thornton Report furnished to the board of RTÉ has emerged in recent days".

'In place prior to my arrival'

Ms Forbes said Mr Tubridy's contract contained contractual payments, which had been negotiated and put in place prior to her arrival at RTÉ.

She said discussions began around the renewal of Mr Tubridy's contract in early 2020.

"Discussions on the new contract were taking place in the context of major organisational challenges and a commitment from the RTÉ executive board to the board and the government to reduce the fees paid to RTÉ's top talent by a further 15% overall as part of a wider cost-cutting strategy," she said.

"As Director-General, I led the discussions with the agent for Ryan Tubridy together with other RTÉ senior executives.

"We were keen to make a cost saving for RTÉ in respect of a contractual payment which was due to be paid.

"At the same time, we were attempting to retain Ryan Tubridy's services as a valued presenter and negotiate a new contract, with the agreed 15% cost cutting target in mind".

Ryan Tubridy Ryan Tubridy presenting his RTE Radio 1 show from Schull, Cork in August 2019. Picture by: Andy Gibson/Alamy Live News

Ms Forbes said it was explored if a long serving commercial partner might take on a commercial relationship directly with Mr Tubridy.

"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," she said.

Ms Forbes said this agreement meant the commercial partner would enter into a "separate commercial contract" with Mr Tubridy for €75,000 in exchange for the provision of three annual events.

"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," she said.

"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".

'One €75k payment'

Ms Forbes said COVID-19 pandemic restrictions meant this commitment could not be met in 2020 and 2021.

"I did not at any stage act contrary to any advice," she said.

"Unfortunately, the pandemic restrictions meant that the commitment to the commercial client could not be met in 2020 and 2021 and was only delivered in 2022.

"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.

"Payment was sought for the 2021 and 2022 contractual commitments that now fell to RTÉ under the guarantee even though RTÉ had never expected to become 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 honour the contractual obligation".

'I am deeply sorry'

Ms Forbes said she and the representatives of RTÉ "acted in good faith" at all times.

"I fully accept and acknowledge responsibility for my part in these events as Director-General," she said.

"This statement is directed to the events of 2020-2022. I understand from media reports and RTÉ’s statement that the board has raised questions concerning payments to Ryan Tubridy between 2017-2019. I have no knowledge of those payments and the board has not raised those questions with me".

Ms Forbes said while she has engaged fully with the board during this process, "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".

"I am deeply sorry for what has happened and my part in this episode and for that I apologise unreservedly to everyone," she added.

In a statement, the RTÉ board said it acknowledges receipt of her resignation.

"We note the contents of her accompanying statement," it said.

"Representatives of the RTÉ board and executive will be attending the Joint Oireachtas Committee and Public Accounts Committee this week," it added.

Main image shows RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes and flags at RTÉ HQ

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