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26th Jun 2023

Dee Forbes resigns as RTÉ director general amid Ryan Tubridy payment controversy

Stephen Porzio

Dee Forbes Rolling

The fallout from the controversy continues.

Dee Forbes has resigned as RTÉ’s director general with “immediate effect” as the controversy surrounding the reporting of Ryan Tubridy’s earnings by the broadcaster rages on.

The announcement comes after the RTÉ Board last Thursday (22 June) revealed that the presenter’s annual earnings between 2017 and 2022 had been understated by the broadcaster.

The RTÉ Board said that Tubridy was paid over €300,000 more during this time than initially declared. It then issued an apology over the matter, describing it as “a serious breach of trust with the public”.

In a later statement on Friday, the board also confirmed that Forbes had been suspended from her employment on Wednesday, 21 June.

And now Forbes herself has announced her resignation as the broadcaster’s director general with immediate effect, stating that she “very much” regrets “the upset and adverse publicity suffered by RTÉ, its staff and the unease created among the public in recent days”.

She explained that, given her role as director general, she was the person “ultimately accountable for what happens within the organisation” and that she takes that responsibility “seriously”.

Dee Forbes

Dee Forbes and Ryan Tubridy

In a statement published by RTÉ News, Forbes also said that she has “engaged with and consistently co-operated” with the processes aimed at answering questions surrounding the payments to Tubridy, adding:

“Much of the information in the Grant Thornton Report furnished to the Board of RTÉ has emerged in recent days. There are a number of points which I think are important to emphasise.

“In early 2020 RTÉ began discussions around the renewal of Ryan Tubridy’s contract. That contract contained contractual payments that had been negotiated and put in place prior to my arrival at RTÉ. 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.

“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. In an effort to find a solution to the budgetary challenges, we explored if a long serving commercial partner might take on a commercial relationship directly with Ryan 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. This agreement meant that the commercial partner would enter into a separate commercial contract with Ryan Tubridy for €75k in exchange for the provision of three events annually.

“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.

“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.

“I did not at any stage act contrary to any advice. 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.”

Forbes said that she and the representatives of RTÉ acted in good faith “at all times” and that she fully accepts and acknowledges “responsibility” for her part in these events as director general.

She also stated that her statement was only directed to the events of 2020-2022, explaining: “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.”

Forbes also said that while she has engaged fully with the RTÉ Board during the process, she feels the board has not treated her with “anything approaching the levels of fairness, equity and respect that anyone should expect as an employee, a colleague or a person”.

She concluded: “All of this has had a very serious and ongoing impact on my health and wellbeing.

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

“I care very deeply about RTÉ, the people who work for it, the public it serves, its mission, values, its unique position as a public service broadcaster and its reputation. I will continue to do so as RTÉ moves forward under the new Director General.”

Following Forbes’ resignation, the RTÉ Board issued its own statement, which reads:

“We acknowledge receipt this morning of correspondence from Dee Forbes confirming her resignation as Director General with immediate effect. We note the contents of her accompanying statement.

“Representatives of the RTÉ Board and Executive will be attending the Joint Oireachtas Committee and Public Accounts Committee this week.”

Main image via Leah Farrell/

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