BRENDAN GRIFFIN’S attack on RTÉ at last week’s Oireachtas media committee was colourful but it obscured an intriguing tussle between committee chair Niamh Smyth and deputy chair of the RTÉ board Ian Kehoe, who is also co-owner and founder of The Currency website.
After a relatively relaxed hearing at which board members were each given two minutes to have their say, Smyth turned her attention to Kehoe and asked if he had raised any concerns at the time about the lack of meetings of RTÉ’s remuneration committee. Kehoe replied: “I didn’t and I regret that.” But he then blamed various executive personnel for either giving no information or misinformation.
Smyth then said: “The executive would have found it difficult in the past in terms of giving information to the board because of leaks and I’m sure all of you would, as we did, get to read about the appointment of the DG… that leaks were coming from the board and obviously that would have undermined the executive entirely if that were to happen. As deputy chair, what would you say or how would you respond to that?”
Kehoe replied that the leaks were “deeply disappointing”, adding: “I think Siún [Ní Raghallaigh, board chair] has addressed that matter in the past”. Smyth interrupted him to ask: “Do you think that would have affected how the executive could work in a meaningful way with the board?” Kehoe referred to the leaks “in recent months, over the past year”, before Smyth quickly cut in to inquire: “And perhaps further back?”
Kehoe again returned to the executive’s “obligation” to provide information to board members, who could not do their work without such material.
Smyth curtly replied: “Leaks is a different thing that does compromise how the executive can fully operate. Would you agree that it would make it difficult for them to come forward with information and make them hesitant, let’s just say?”
Kehoe again diverted and resorted to blaming the executive for withholding information or even providing untrue information.
Saying that the leaks had been “deeply disruptive”, Smyth then asked Ní Raghallaigh if she had been able to address the issue. The RTÉ board chair said she had, especially following “Kevin’s appointment”, and that she took action by reminding board members of their responsibilities.
Bet that frightened them.