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Media minister defends her response to RTE payments scandal

Ireland’s media minister Catherine Martin has defended her response to the RTE payments scandal.

The minister has been criticised over not being available to the media since July 22 as the row surrounding the actions of the national broadcaster expanded.

The issue has dominated headlines since revelations in June that RTE misreported the salary of star presenter Ryan Tubridy and failed to properly disclose 345,000 euro (£296,000) of payments to him between 2017 and 2022.

The scandal widened amid further disclosures about RTE’s internal financial, accounting and governance practices and its expenditure on corporate hospitality for advertising clients.

Ms Martin responded to the criticism as she spoke to media on Friday after unveiling an interim report by forensic accountants into RTE.

“I was dealing with a personal family matter and that very close family relative died earlier this week,” she said.

“In dealing with that, I had to be away from base and I don’t regret that because I’ve had a chance to say goodbye to somebody that I loved quite dearly.”

Ms Martin also said: “I had time with my family and that is very important to me. It’s not incompatible, by the way, to have time with your family and to work as well.

“Like any cabinet minister, I think it’s not easy to take time out when the Dail rises and the committees aren’t sitting, but as we all know, the work of government and departments continue during these periods.

“I don’t intend to go into personal life, suffice to say that in most days in recent weeks, I have been working.

“I did spend time with my family: I’m a mother and that’s something that’s really important to me, and spending time with my children is important for me, and it’s important for them but some of this period also involves a personal family matter that I was dealing with.”

Ms Martin appointed forensic accountant Mazars to examine RTE’s use of a UK-based barter account for certain commercial transactions.