Editorial: Restoring trust in RTÉ

Few would have disagreed when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil yesterday that the scandal about undeclared payments at RTÉ had shaken public trust in an important institution.

There has been shock and anger in equal measure since it emerged that the broadcaster's highest-paid star, Ryan Tubridy, received payments totalling €345,000 above his annual published salary between 2017 and 2022.

There were immediate demands to explain the reasons for the special arrangement, as well who knew about the deal, and if further revelations about other presenters might follow.

Mr Tubridy, who has not presented his morning radio show this week, said all his earnings have been properly recorded in company accounts but apologised for not asking questions when incorrect figures were published by RTÉ.

Having only recently basked in tributes from some of the world's biggest names in entertainment as he ended a 14-year run as host of the Late Late Show, his future with the state broadcaster is now suddenly unclear.

The Irish government has ordered an external review into governance and culture at RTÉ.

Executives are also likely to face tough questioning from politicians this week when they appear before two parliamentary committees investigating the affair.

One important figure who will not be present at those hearings is former director general Dee Forbes, who has said she will be unable to attend due to ill health.

The public outcry saw Ms Forbes resign from her position on Monday, saying she was the person ultimately accountable for what happens within the organisation.

And she now finds herself firmly at the centre of the controversy after RTÉ declared she was the only member of the executive board who had all the information to understand that Mr Tubridy's published salary figures were wrong.

A nine-page statement issued by interim deputy director General Adrian Lynch last night said she was directly involved in aspects of underwriting an agreement with a commercial partner for the extra payments.

However, while the statement has put significant further information in the public domain, it does not include a response from Ms Forbes and does not cover Mr Tubridy's earnings in the period 2017-19.

The revelations of the past week have caused consternation both inside and outside RTÉ and run the risk of becoming an existential crisis for the broadcaster.

The only way to begin the process of restoring trust and authority is for all involved to commit to full transparency and for investigations to swiftly establish what exactly went so badly wrong.