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11th Jul 2023

Former Mayo footballer Alan Dillon grills Ryan Tubridy at RTÉ payments hearing

Patrick McCarry

Alan Dillon

The Castlebar native has been a Fine Gael TD since 2020.

During the Public Accounts Committee hearings over the RTÉ pay scandal, which has been running since late last month at the Oireachtas, Alan Dillon had a chance to ask some questions the public have been mulling over.

The Fine Gael TD, who won eight Connacht SFC titles and two All Stars in his 14-year Mayo football career, raised a number of valid points and was unsparing, on a couple of occasions, with Ryan Tubridy and his agent, Noel Kelly.

Dillon dug into the fact that some of Tubridy’s salary payments from RTÉ were listed as ‘consultancy fees’ to Renault, for €75,000. He asked if Kelly colluded in a “falsehood of concealment” but the agent replied that “we had no beneift in seeking to suppress” any payments.

“I had no reason not to believe them [RTÉ],” Kelly added. “These invoices were as instructed.” On a number of occasions, Kelly portrayed his company as “small” and trusting of the big broadcasting behemoth that is RTÉ. The exchange, in part, went like this:

DILLON: “You said you were following instructions.”

KELLY: “Yes.”

DILLON: “Therefore did you collude in RTE in a falsehood, a concealment?”

KELLY: “We had no benefit in seeking to suppress.”

Alan DillonFine Gael Deputy Alan Dillon and Ryan Tubridy engage during the PAC hearing. (Credit: Oireachtas TV)

Alan Dillon tried to get to bottom of payments issue

Noel Kelly stated, more than a few times, that his company was ‘just following process’ and that Tubridy was doing ‘what he was instructed to do by RTÉ’.

One of the big issues of the payment imbroglio has been that the state broadcaster underwrote a guarantee that Tubridy would get paid this additional €75,000 for doing additional work for sponsors, such as Renault. When Renault pulled out of their deal, one year into a two-year agreement, it left RTÉ holding the bag and needing to cover that €75,000 cost to Tubridy.

Deputy Alan Dillon spoke clearly and forcibly on the fact that ‘side deals’ for additional money were being made, and not being clearly communicated to the public, when Ireland was in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Do you accept responsibility that your actions have been reckless in nature when dealing with RTÉ on this matter,” he asked.

When Kelly said, ‘No, I don’t,” Dillon responded.

“So you’re trying to put the sole blame on RTÉ here in relation to this payment scandal?”

“Yes, completely,” Kelly replied, before Dillon asked if it ‘took two to tango’.

“We were just following process,” Kelly said, again.

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