The Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte is allowing taxpayers to be bled by the exorbitant salaries of RTE’s stars, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Communications Éamon Ó Cuív. Deputy Ó Cuív has hit out at Minister Rabbitte for his refusal to tackle the excessive pay of certain presenters at the State broadcaster.


Deputy Ó Cuív said, “Minister Pat Rabbitte has now claimed that he is powerless to influence a cut in the exorbitant salaries of some presenters at RTE. This is simply untrue. The Minister has full control over the awarding of grants to RTE from the funding received from television license fees.  It is fully within his power to set pre-conditions to that funding, so that RTE would not receive it unless they addressed the excessive pay of some of their staff.


“Clearly Pat Rabbitte’s bark is bigger than his bite. He has acknowledged that something should be done in relation to pay at RTE. Speaking in the Dáil recently, Minister Rabbitte said, “Given the times we are in and that RTE is projecting a deficit at the end of the year in excess of €30 million, it would be appropriate to consider all levels of salary and remuneration packages.”


“But despite these comments, the Minister has now backed away and refused to step in on behalf of the taxpayer. His partners in Government are equally to blame for this u-turn. Last year, Fine Gael pledged to cap salaries of all RTE management and presenters to a maximum of €200,000. This is now added to the list of broken promises from the coalition partners.


“At a time when meeting household bills isn’t easy, people should not be paying their TV licence to fund the salaries of RTE presenters, some of whom earn well in excess of half a million euro a year. Minister Rabbitte must take a stand and insist that if he continues to award tax-payers money to RTE, the priority for spending that money should be on content and its cultural role rather than funding the excessive salaries of its stars.


“I believe the salaries of presenters and executives at RTE should be capped at the level of no more than Ministers’ pay. Fianna Fáil in government dramatically reduced the salaries of Ministers and put a cap on the salaries executives of State bodies. Ministerial pay has now been cut from €225,195 in 2008 to €169,275. The State has seen fit to generally cap salaries across the broader public sector particularly where there is direct subvention from the State. There is no reason that the same principle would not apply to RTE which receives approximately €200 million in subvention from the taxpayer each year through Pat Rabitte’s Department”