RTÉ is today publishing the independent report by McCann FitzGerald LLP, which reviews RTÉ’s voluntary exit programmes in 2017 and 2021.
The report finds that over 250 applications were submitted under the 2017 VEP and 176 were successful. Cost savings of 80% or more were identified in the vast majority of successful applications. In a small number of exits, cost savings of less than 80% were identified and regard was had to specific business cases in deciding whether to accept/reject their applications.
In relation to Ms Breda O’Keeffe, the former Chief Financial Officer, the report finds that Ms O’Keeffe’s application was the only one not considered and approved by the Executive Board as was required under the rules of the 2017 VEP, and that “the terms of the 2017 VEP were not complied with.” The report concludes in this regard that the failure of RTÉ to follow the rules of its scheme rests with it.
In 10 cases, applications for exit under the 2017 VEP were approved and termination payments, including statutory redundancy payments, paid, but the report finds that these departures “did not … satisfy the requirements of a redundancy within the meaning of the Redundancy Payments Acts.” The report observes that the Revenue Commissioners may take the view that RTÉ should not have applied the tax exemption applicable to statutory redundancy payments to the payments received by some or all of these individuals, and that “this will … be a matter for the Revenue Commissioners to determine.” However, the report clarifies that, under the rules the 2017 VEP, it was within RTÉ’s power to accept voluntary severance applications where the criteria for the 2017 VEP were satisfied, even where a statutory redundancy did not arise. RTÉ has already written to Revenue in this regard and will engage in a process with it.
The report reviewed all formal applications that were submitted under the 2021 VEP, and concludes that all applications were considered consistently and that all departures were in compliance with the terms of the VEP.
Kevin Bakhurst, Director-General, RTÉ, says: “RTÉ accepts the findings of the McCann Fitzgerald report, which I commissioned. The report finds that the rules of the two schemes were observed in all instances save one. I remain shocked by this serious breach of procedure – my aim continues to be the implementation of measures to ensure this cannot happen again.
This report arrives as we near completion of a new Governance Framework for RTÉ, informed by ISO 37,000 standards, which will enshrine best practice governance standards across the organisation. I am satisfied that the additional systemic protections that have been introduced over the last six months will safeguard future processes, including the broadening of the terms of reference and oversight controls of the Remuneration Committee, and stronger governance procedures at Interim Leadership Team level.”
You can view the report here.