Furious ministers join war on RTE stars' pay


THE Government has launched a bitter war on wages at RTE as the station's chief pledged to abide by a pay cut.

Cabinet ministers are lining up to condemn the massive salaries of up to and exceeding €500,000 that are paid to top names.

In the latest attack, one minister said RTE stars were being paid "horrendous amounts of money".

Eamon O Cuiv's swipe came on Morning Ireland and follows criticism about RTE by both the Taoiseach and Finance Minister in recent days.

Today, the station's new boss was the first to cede to the political pressure when he confirmed that he would comply with the new public sector salary cap of €250,000.


Noel Curran, who takes up the director general role in February, is to do the job for €11,000 less than his predecessor. Sources have told the Herald that members of the Cabinet and Fianna Fail feel aggrieved at their treatment on RTE and see some hosts as "hypocrites".

Ministers took a €10,000 pay cut in the Budget but many at RTE remain untouchable because they operate as self-employed companies. Some members of the Government -- who earn €181,000 -- hope the focus on pay will "shame" presenters on higher pay. Pat Kenny is the highest earner at the station, with most recent figures putting his salary at €630,000.

Marian Finucane, who presents just four hours of radio every weekend, pockets €570,000, while RTE golden boy Ryan Tubridy's last known salary was €533,333.

On RTE Radio, Mr O Cuiv said: "You have the issue in this organisation of horrendous amounts of money being paid to presenters in the context of the present economic situation. I think, obviously, that's a fair point that has to be looked at."

Earlier this week, Taoiseach Brian Cowen accused the station of having an editorial policy that involved making him repeatedly say sorry for the economic crisis. This was denied by News At One presenter Sean O'Rourke.

Prime Time host Miriam O'Callaghan was also at the brunt of Brian Lenihan's fury after the publication of the Four Year Plan. The Finance Minister turned on the presenter after she pressed him on why poor people were to be hit hardest by his cuts.

He fumed over accusations that he was protecting disgraced bankers with the bank guarantee.

"No, you are absolutely wrong in that and you insist on saying this in every single programme on RTE and you're wrong," he said.