By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
RTÉ bosses have been urged to sign up to transparency deals in return for Government money due to ongoing concerns over how they pay their top stars.
The cross-party Dáil public accounts committee issued the demand at the launch of its quarterly report this afternoon, saying the public has a right to know how the tens of millions of euro it gives the station are spent.
In a 95-page report on its work over the past year released this afternoon, the PAC raised serious issues about funding at universities and colleges, individual Government departments and the wider banking system.
And, as reported in Tuesday's Irish Examiner, among its most high-profile recommendations is for RTÉ to sign up to strict new service-level agreement contracts to ensure there is transparency in how it spends taxpayers' money.
Speaking at the launch of the report, PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said RTÉ receives €170m from Government departments and that answers are required.
He said while there is no legal requirement on RTÉ to agree to such a contract, there are concerns about individual presenters setting up companies to receive higher payments with less tax.
While stressing he "completely accepts the independence of RTÉ", Mr Fleming said there is a clear need for the move to take place and that sanctions may be made if no action is taken.
However, he added that it is unlikely the PAC will ask that RTÉ 's budget be cut, as this is not possible under the powers of the committee, and is instead a matter for the Government.
Speaking during the same launch, Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said he is similarly concerned about the RTÉ financial issue as there "are large sections of the budget given to agencies" and controversial presenter contracts.
Fianna Fáil TD Marc Mac Sharry added he is in favour of "tangible sanctions if something isn't done".