HomeNewsGardaí should be notified of any alleged fraud at RTÉ, says Health...

Gardaí should be notified of any alleged fraud at RTÉ, says Health Minister


MINISTER for Health Stephen Donnelly said Friday that An Garda Síochána should be notified of any alleged financial fraud at RTÉ.

The national pubic service broadcaster is fighting for its survival after it emerged that it paid undisclosed sums of public money to former star host of The Late Late Show, Ryan Tubridy.

Speaking in Limerick, Minister Donnelly said that “a submission will have to go to the Gardaí, I would imagine that will happen, and then obviously it will be for the Gardaí to take a look into that.”

“There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered in terms of this particular situation. I thought there was some very concerning testimony heard yesterday at the Public Accounts Committee.”

“I think there were was a reference from the (RTÉ) board to potential ‘deception’ – I think ‘fraud’ was mentioned by one member of the board – these are serious things that we are hearing from the board,” said Minister Donnelly.

Asked if a more in-depth inquiry – apart from a proposed review by Media Minister Catherine Martin – should take place and involve Gardaí, Mr Donnelly said the terms of reference of Minister Martin’s review had not yet been signed off on, but that he had “no doubt Minister Martin will be presenting to government terms of reference that are sufficient to address the issues that have raised”.

Minster Donnelly said he was aware Minister Martin has “engaged very closely with RTÉ” and that it was “a matter for the Gardaí” themselves to decide if they were to launch a criminal investigation.

“Ultimately, there needs to be full transparency. The Irish public need to know and the people working in RTÉ need to know exactly what happened, why it happened, and how it happened,” Minister Donnelly continued.

He said RTÉ needed to emerge from the scandal “reformed and stronger, because never before has it been more important to have a strong public broadcaster, and independent media across the country”.

“We live in a world of increasing misinformation and disinformation online with social media, more and more now we are going to see AI generate false news and it is going to become harder and harder for people to differentiate between fact and fiction online.”

Asked if he believed there ought to be a clean-out of RTÉ executives, Mr Donnelly replied: “What we need to do now is gather the facts, I imagine the Oireachtas committees will seek further hearings and we need to sign off and get this review going so that we can understand the full picture.”

Meanwhile, commenting on other issues, Minister Donnelly said he was not seeking to reverse a tax on sugar after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced it was to declare aspartame – a commonly used artificial sweetener – a possible carcinogen.

When asked if the sugar tax would continue, despite a trend towards possible dangerous artificial sweeteners, the Health Minister replied: “Yes, yes it is.”

While acknowledging “measures can have unintended consequences”, he said the sugar tax is “an important measure” against the scourge of “childhood obesity”.

He welcomed the WHO’s position and is to engage with the Chief Medical Officer next week on the issue, adding: “The reality is we have a childhood obesity issue in this country, we are high consumers of processed sugar – that is not a good thing.”

Minister Donnelly also commented on recent reports that Gardaí were seeing more and more motorists driving while watching videos and engaging with video calls – but could not prosecute drivers because it is not an offence to do so.

Such behaviour could lead to serious road traffic collisions that could put further strain on hospital surgery waiting lists, he agreed, which was “certainly something we need to pay very serious attention to”.

When asked if he believed this type of driver behaviour should be outlawed, he replied: “I do.”

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