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23rd Jun 2023

‘RTÉ is a West Brit organisation’ – Joe Duffy’s Liveline was off the charts as Ryan Tubridy payments took centre stage

Patrick McCarry

Joe Duffy

“The country is in an absolute mess, and then you have this.”

Joe Duffy’s Liveline served up an all-timer, this Friday afternoon, as listeners called in, en masse, to have their say on the Ryan Tubridy payments issue.

On Thursday, RTÉ released a statement that confirmed Tubridy’s salary had been understated for the past six years, totalling €345,000 in additional payments that had not been previously disclosed. Not long after, Tubridy, who recently stepped down as Late Late Show host, released a statement saying ‘this is a matter for RTÉ’ to deal with and that he could shed no more light on the matter.

Tubridy did not present his usual Friday morning radio slot on RTÉ today and Duffy stated, on his show, that it was his believe that the 50-year-old was written to and asked not to come in.

Everyone that tuned in at 1:45pm to hear how the popular phone-in show dealt with the payments situation, which has now seen RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes suspended, first had to deal with some gripes over the playing of the Angelus and the broadcaster getting called a ‘West Brit organisation’.

Joe Duffy’s Liveline board lights up

We were soon off and running, though, as Joe Duffy fielded calls from Cork, Limerick, Galway, Limerick, Dublin, Limerick again and even South Carolina on the Ryan Tubridy salary situation.

We had Richard from Courtown, Wexford saying RTÉ would have ‘no chance of a licence fee increase’ for a while after the payments issue came to light. He declared:

“As a hard-pressed tax-payer myself, I’m on invalidity payments but still pay for all my medication… it’s not right… RTÉ need to be more transparent and open with people… the country is in an absolute mess, and then you have this.”

This was followed by Miriam, a teacher from Limerick, who believed that Tubridy, as ‘a person that upheld the values of truth, probity and honesty’, had let down the children that so adored him as the Late Late Toy Show host.

She claimed Tubridy had long been seen as a positive role model to young people and a bastion against ‘the likes of Andrew Tate and others promoting toxic masculinity’.

On the matter of Tubridy or his representatives not flagging that the publicly disclosed RTÉ salary figures did not stack up, Miriam felt that as another let-down. “The dogs in the street knew the figures,” she said. “He knew.”

“In fairness,” Joe Duffy cut in, “We don’t want to start calling people liars now.”

“I wasn’t saying that,” she countered, “but I did say he was lacking honesty.”

We had Noel from Limerick ,who wanted to know if the extra payments that had gone to Tubridy would be paid back, before Odhrán called in from South Carolina.

“How many of your listeners check their salary or check their pay-slips?” he asked. “I know he is comfortably paid, but is he going to check his salary, or pay-slip, every month? I doubt it.”

Joe DuffyJoe Duffy (left) and Ryan Tubridy both work at RTÉ and are represented by the same agent. (Image credits: Rolling News)

‘This is the straw that broke the camel’s back’

We then had two more callers, following on from the South Carolina caller, that spoke up in defence of Ryan Tubridy.

Anita recognised ‘there may be bitterness in regards to salaries involved’ but asked listeners to remember there was a human being involved.

“Ryan is probably going to the local shop, mortified, knowing that everybody is talking about his dirty laundry,” she lamented.

She shared a personal story of Tubridy visiting her daughter’s school each year to help encourage the students to read. “He helped get us through the lockdown… he brought us warmth and humanity,” she said.

Angela was up next and spoke to Joe Duffy about a “character assassination” against Tubridy, although she admitted it was a ‘huge chunk of change’ not to publicly declare, or notice. “We’re a nation of begrudgers,” she added.

This was countered by the next caller, Amanda, saying “we’re more on an awake nation” and adding “this is the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

When one incredulous caller refused to believe salaries of hosts and personalities was not discussed in the RTÉ canteen, Joe Duffy proclaimed, “We’re too busy making shows.”

Margaret was next on-deck and she described Tubridy as “a man of absolute integrity”. While he had not quite reached Gay Byrne levels of public adoration, she believed Tubridy was not far off that lofty mark. “I can’t believe this witch-hunt is taking place,” she said. “I’m stunned at the way with how a man can be taken down and his character can be taken apart.”

We then had Frank, who did not agree with the “witch-hunt” claims, arguing that Tubridy or his representatives had ‘four or five years’ to set the record straight on his publicly disclosed salary not matching what ended up in his account. He commented, “Not once in those five years had Ryan corrected those figures… that’s what I can’t get my head around.”

There was a caller from Cork that called the whole situation ‘very embarrassing for all in RTÉ’ before we had Barry phoning in from Clifden, in Galway. He shared another personal story, of the TV presenter being invited, during some time off from work, to primary school science fair.

“He left his breakfast behind him,” said Barry, “and told us, ‘Yes, 100% Count me in!’.” Tubridy was said to have spent an hour signing autographs and posing for pictures, then went around to each of the projects. “We should all back off,” scolded Barry.

After a short break and a few words from Emma O’Kelly, RTÉ education correspondent and Chair of NUJ Dublin Broadcasting Branch, there was time for two more calls before wrapping up.

“I’m personally disappointed by the statement,” said Trisha, who then added, “When his salary was published on a yearly basis, surely someone would have realised that it did not reflect what he was really getting.”

The final word went to Bernadette, who had the back of Ryan Tubridy.

“Ryan can walk down the street with his head held high,” she said. “It’s not his fault… it could happen to anybody.”

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