Ryan Tubridy and Noel Kelly at the Public Accounts Committee

Ryan Tubridy and Noel Kelly at the Public Accounts Committee

Full Transcript:

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I thank the witnesses for attending and for their opening
statements. I know Mr. Tubridy is fond of a small quirky fact that tells a story. I am sure he
knows as well that 79% of us listen to radio daily here in Ireland, despite everything else that is
open to us, from Spotify to podcasts. Like most people, we are big radio listeners in our house
and Mr. Tubridy was in our kitchen five mornings a week. That is the thing. He was that familiar voice in our kitchen. When he told us during Covid in particular, and I am sure during the
recessions, that we were all in it together we believed him. That is why we feel so shattered by
this story now. Mr. Tubridy has set out a strong rebuttal. It is clear that RTÉ, when they appear
before us again on Thursday, will have a serious set of questions to answer. The fact remains,
rightly or wrongly, that public trust in our public broadcaster and in Mr. Tubridy has been shattered. Maybe today is a start, but we will see.

I have one quick question. Is it true that Mr. Tubridy engaged the services of an internal or
external crisis communications team before appearing today?

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: We assembled a team of people to talk with and to get the best advice.

I was always told by a relative of mine to always surround yourself with people smarter than
you, so yes of course we spoke to people.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Were people paid to offer crisis communications advice,
either internal or external?

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: I of course presume they were not doing it for free.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: We will take that as “Yes.” I hope the answer to my next
question is “No,” but was Mr. Tubridy advised by those people to delay the documentation until
8.30 a.m. this morning?

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: No. I apologise for that. The documentation—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: It is a comprehensive set of documentation. It sheds a lot of
light on a huge amount of things—–

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: Does the Deputy want me to come back on that.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: —–but it was received at 8.30 a.m. The staff who support
this committee stayed up until very late last night got up very early this morning.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: I apologise. Does the Deputy want me to come back on that or would
he rather keep going?

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Briefly, if he could.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: The past three weeks have been chaotic. They have been destructive.
They have been beyond difficult. All I will say to the Deputy is that we wanted to get things
right today, because so many people have been getting things wrong.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I fully accept and I do not want to interrupt, but I have one
eye to the clock.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: Hence, we were working on this burning the midnight oil.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I want to examine one thing in Mr. Tubridy’s opening statement. He states clearly that he took a 20% pay cut. Is that inclusive or exclusive of the €75,000 he was receiving either from Renault, or from RTÉ through a barter account? When Mr. Tubridy says he took a 20% pay cut, is that inclusive or exclusive of the €75,000.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: Mr. Kelly will take that.

Mr. Noel Kelly: I will answer that. The 20% was that Mr. Tubridy’s contract was €495,000,

€495,000, €545,000, €545,000 and €545,000. That was—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Is the 20% referred to the direct payment from RTÉ?

Mr. Noel Kelly: I will explain the percentage. That was from 2015 to 2019. In Mr. Tubridy’s next contract, his salary was €440,000 per annum. That was €200,000 for radio, and €240,000 for television. That was a €105,000 reduction per year multiplied by five. That was €525,000. It did not include the €120,000 he did not take, and the Renault €75,000 was a completely separate contract. This was on his television and radio earnings.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: It is exclusive of the Renault contract or the payment through
RTÉ by the barter account.

Mr. Noel Kelly: Yes.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I have to contest that we regard this as separate. The email
over and back that we see in the contract negotiations are shocking to all of the members for
a number of reasons. The first is the number of people who are included, and Mr. Kelly has
drawn attention to that.

Mr. Noel Kelly: Yes.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: It also points clearly to the fact that it is not separate. It is
part of the RTÉ contract.

Mr. Noel Kelly: No, it is not part of the RTÉ contract.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: If it were entirely separate, why would RTÉ be involved in

Mr. Noel Kelly: RTÉ came to us with this. At all times, everything to do with this contract
was under instruction from RTÉ, but the contract and the payments were with Renault, the
sponsor. Renault is still the sponsor of “The Late Late Show.”

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I asked the question of Mr. Tubridy and it was in his opening
statement. That is exclusive of the €75,000. Would he accept it is difficult for us to reconcile
the idea that this was an entirely separate arrangement, when it formed part of the contract negotiations?

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: I understand entirely where the Deputy is coming from. I understand
the room for perception issues.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Okay. I want to move on to Mr. Kelly’s part in this. I think
it is important to put to bed any idea that Mr. Tubridy made any decision about “The Late Late
Show” on foot of this.

Mr. Noel Kelly: Sure.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: We know the two problematic invoices were presented to
Dee Forbes on 8 March. Whenever Mr. Tubridy took his decision he announced it on 16 March.
Would Mr. Kelly have Dee Forbes’s telephone number in his phone?

Mr. Noel Kelly: No.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: No.

Mr. Noel Kelly: If I can explain, there are so many untruths, I find it bizarre. I have only
ever met Dee Forbes with her legal team in their office in RTÉ. I have never had a cup of tea
with Dee Forbes. I have never met Dee Forbes for lunch. I have never met her for dinner. I do
not know Dee Forbes apart from when I would meet her in RTÉ—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I am sorry – we are so time-compressed here.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: If the Deputy has a question with regard to my departure from the “The
Late Late Show”, that was so deeply personal and so deeply from my heart, I urge him to ask
me about that because—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I want to ask a very simple question and it sounds like Mr.
Tubridy would welcome the opportunity. Was there any communication to Mr. Tubridy or NK
Management between 8 March and 16 March regarding these problematic invoices?

Mr. Noel Kelly: No.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: No.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: That is fine.

Mr. Noel Kelly: The first indication was on 23 May.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I do want to contest that because between 3 May and 5 May,
there is an over and back—–

Mr. Noel Kelly: Sorry, when we met with Grant Thornton—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: —–between Paula Mullooly and NK Management where
specific reference is made to the Century Merchandising Services, CMS, invoices.

Mr. Noel Kelly: Yes.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I do want to ask Mr. Kelly about the decision to use CMS. I
want to contest that because there is certainly an over and back between NK Management

Mr. Noel Kelly: Sorry – on 3 May—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: —–and Paula Mullooly.

Mr. Noel Kelly: There is just a lot of emails. We were first made aware of it on 3 May and
after that, we met with Grant Thornton to talk to them about it. In relation to Mr. Tubridy stepping down or stepping back, he had said it to me the previous year and I said to him “Why? Why
are you leaving?” and he—–

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: So did my family. They thought I was mad.

Mr. Noel Kelly: To be honest, a very good friend of ours said, “Ryan, why are you leaving?
Stay on the “Late Late”. It is a great show”. I knew after Covid when you are playing to no
audience that it was a really difficult show to do and when he said—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: I am so sorry to interrupt Mr. Kelly and I do not want to
come across as hectoring but I have two minutes remaining and a list of questions as long as
your arm.

Mr. Noel Kelly: We had been aware of this for quite a while and I was trying to get him to

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: On the invoicing, I noticed in the accounts that were returned at the end of the year that in respect of money transferred to Tuttle Productions, it can
essentially be seen in the normal run of a year that the amount derived from NK Management is
quite small and that in the years in question, it was large. The €75,000 can be seen. Mr. Kelly
has four companies that are registered out of Unit 2b, Calmount Office Park, Ballymount: NK
Management; Noel Kelly Management Nominees Limited, which was registered on 16 March
2023; Century Merchandising Services, CMS, Limited; and Cleary Consultancy Limited. Why
was it CMS that decided to raise the invoice?

Mr. Noel Kelly: Because I have two companies – NK Management and CMS – and we were
asked by RTÉ to send the invoice in from CMS.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Why CMS?

Mr. Noel Kelly: Those were RTÉ’s instructions.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: It is NK Management that appears at the end of year.

Mr. Noel Kelly: Sure, but we own CMS as well. It is a sister company.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: Mr. Kelly has no explanation for why NK Management
above CMS. It just adds a layer of opacity because I know what NK Management is but I do
not know what CMS is.

Mr. Noel Kelly: Again, we were directed by RTÉ.

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: With this direction from RTÉ, we have all received emails
saying, “All you have to do is invoice a certain company in wherever and all of this money will
be yours.” It concerns an invoice for €75,000 to a company Mr. Kelly says he does not know
and has never come across. He has no reason to suspect RTÉ is hiding payments but it asked
him to invoice this company to receive a payment and he did not say, “I’m sorry but who is this
company and why am I invoicing them?”

Mr. Noel Kelly: RTÉ has, say, 1,800 employees and turns over €350 million. We are a
small little company. There are eight of us. We are a small company—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: The context of this is that Mr. Kelly has been upset about the
recording of earnings beforehand.

Mr. Noel Kelly: We were asked under instruction to do this and that is what we did.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: Can I say something briefly? Am I allowed?

An Cathaoirleach: Briefly.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: The Deputy was listening to my radio show during the week—–

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh: It was my missus, unfortunately. I am up here. My missus
listens regularly.

Mr. Ryan Tubridy: The Deputy’s wife or his partner. I thank him for saying that. I am
sorry to hear that she feels that way about the programme but I can assure him that this is what
today is al