Another RTE board member resigns

Another RTE board member has resigned amid continuing turmoil at the national broadcaster.

It has emerged Dr PJ Mathews, who has been an RTE board member for almost 10 years, is to step down just over one week since the resignation of board chairwoman Siun Ni Raghallaigh in the wake of much-criticised comments from the media minister.

Minister Catherine Martin refused to express confidence in Ms Ni Raghallaigh during a live television appearance on Thursday night, saying she had been misinformed about the chairwoman’s role in approving a controversial exit package for an RTE executive.

Ms Ni Raghallaigh resigned hours later, leaving the board without a chairperson at a critical time for RTE.

Ms Martin has been criticised for her handling of the situation with opposition TDs claiming she had effectively sacked the chair live on air.

RTE pay revelations
Former RTE chairwoman Siun Ni Raghallaigh (Brian Lawless/PA)

She met remaining members of the board on Friday morning and gave an “absolute commitment” for a Government decision on sustainable funding for RTE before the summer.

The minister was also notified that Dr Mathews, who has been an RTE board member for almost 10 years, is to step down.

Ms Martin said her immediate focus was on appointing a new chair and additional board members “very shortly”.

In a statement, she said: “This morning I held a positive and forward-looking meeting with the board of RTE.

“I expressed my appreciation for the significant commitment which the board has demonstrated over what has been a very difficult eight months.

RTE pay revelations
Media minister Catherine Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“The board members updated me on the important work, at board level and throughout the organisation, on RTE’s new strategy and the reforms which have been put in place.

“I acknowledged the dedication and commitment which the former chair had shown in this regard. I also acknowledged the contribution of Dr PJ Mathews, who has notified me of his decision, for work-related reasons, to resign from the board.”

She added: “I also provided assurances of my absolute commitment to a Government decision on a new and sustainable funding model by the summer.”

The board also characterised the morning meeting as “positive”.

A spokeswoman said: “The board welcomed the open and constructive meeting, focused on the future of RTE and public service media.

“The board brought the minister through the work currently under way on the new strategy for RTE and discussed the importance of continuing this work following the publication of the reports by the Government-appointed expert advisory committees.

“Both the minister and the board paid tribute to the work of the former chair, Siun Ni Raghallaigh, and board member, Dr PJ Mathews, who is stepping down after almost 10 years on the board, due to work commitments.

“The board looks forward to the appointment of a new chair and new board members.”

Meanwhile, RTE appointed Mari Hurley as its new chief financial officer.

Ms Hurley, who will take up the role in late summer, said: “I’m delighted to be joining RTE and its leadership team at this critical time for the organisation and for the future of public service media in Ireland.

“I look forward to working with the director-general, the RTE Board, its audit and risk committee and the finance team to develop RTE’s financial strategy and to bring my experience of successfully leading and implementing change and transformation programmes to RTE, in line with the unique values and obligations of public service.”

She was previously chief financial officer for AA Ireland, Lotto operator Premier Lotteries Ireland, Hostelworld Group plc and Sherry FitzGerald Group.

Ms Hurley, a UCC graduate who has completed an executive management programme at Harvard Business School, has also non-executive board experience in two of Ireland’s leading semi-state entities: NAMA and Ervia.

RTE director-general Kevin Bakhurst said: “Mari is a highly experienced CFO with extensive experience in setting and driving the strategic direction of global businesses.

“Mari’s broad corporate finance experience means she is skilled at embedding strong governance and controls in regulated businesses. Her proven deliveries in the development of systems for enhanced governance, control processes and provision of regular reporting, aligns strongly with RTE’s renewed mission around transparency, accountability and good governance.”

She joins recent appointments to RTE’s leadership team, including Gavin Deans, commercial director, and Daniel Coady, director of legal.