RTE Director General Dee Forbes

Yesterday.

Director General of RTÉ Dee Forbes appeared before the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Ms Forbes’ appearance follows the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland saying RTÉ should get an immediate injection of €30million in funding.

In The Times Ireland edition, Catherine Sanz and Kate O’Neill report:

It was suggested to Ms Forbes by Hildegarde Naughton, the committee’s chairwoman, that with a licence evasion rate of 14.6 per cent, if the revenue from unpaid licence fees were recouped it would generate €40 million, surpassing the BAI’s recommendation.

However, Ms Forbes said that efforts were already being made to collect fees from households claiming not to have a television and watching programmes online, but that the broadcaster needed funding now because it was in crisis.

…Ms O’Keeffe said that RTÉ’s operating costs were reduced by 30 per cent between 2008 and 2013, which was achieved through pay cuts averaging between 2.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, in addition to a suspension of bonuses that has not yet been restored. Pay cuts had been reversed.

She told the committee that the cuts were not sustainable with maintaining quality. “In order to make good content, you have to spend money; our competitors are. For very high quality programming you have to invest.”

Ms Forbes also said:

“Our urgency is also reflected in the industry…Our commissioning levels to Irish production companies have halved over the last number of years. We were spending €80million on commissioned programmes. We’re now spending €40million.”

Meanwhile…

In response to a question about RTÉ’s workers’ different salaries, and pay grades, and transparency about the same

Director of Human Resources Eimear Cusack said:

“Again, much of it is down to legacy issues, in terms of how grades have built up over time and how different roles have morphed into different roles.

“You know we have an employee base of almost 1,800 employees, most of whom are governed by grades. So I think in the new model – because grades are tied to union agreements, etc, so in the new model, we would have, I suppose greater simplification and, I suppose, greater transparency because there will be less to look at.”

Watch back in full here

RTÉ crisis ‘can’t be solved just by catching licence cheats’ (The Times Ireland edition)

Yesterday: Staying In This Afternoon?

A Shabby Sense Of Entitlement

A ‘Grá’-embossed Absolut Vodka ‘Drop of Love’ Limited edition bottle

Seamus writes:

We’re getting in touch to share with you details on ABSOLUT Vodka’s Limited Edition bottle that is available in stores from now until Christmas.

The theme for this year’s bottle is ‘A Drop of Love’ which communicates the message of love instead of hate.

For the first time, Ireland is proudly represented on the vibrant bottle with the word Grá.

Hic.

Absolut Drop of Love

Scenes from the meeting between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Brussels, Belgium last night

Leo Varadkar and EU chiefs have given Theresa May two more months to come up with a Brexit solution or face getting turfed out of Europe with no deal.

This would be disastrous for both Ireland and the UK and would almost certainly see the return of a hard border between North and South.

However, the 27 remaining EU heads of State on Wednesday were supportive of Ms May in her efforts.

Ms May will have to come forward with fresh proposals at the next summit in mid-December outlining the British position ahead of formal Brexit in March.

Leo Varadkar and EU chiefs give Theresa May two more months to come up with Brexit solution (irish Mirrror)

Earlier:

…the Prime Minister acknowledges the European Union’s backstop drafted in the December withdrawal agreement can not feature an end date.

Senior EU officials revealed Mrs May made the admission to Leo Varadkar before briefing the remaining EU leaders on her latest Brexit strategy.

Mr Varadkar insisted a “legally operative backstop” that would come into effect immediately after the transition period must still be included in the withdrawal agreement in order for it to be acceptable to Ireland.

This has remained a Brussels demand as the bloc’s leaders seek assurances Brexit will not create a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Mr Varadkar did, however, move to offer the Prime Minister an opportunity to make the backstop more palatable in Westminster by using creative wording.

“There can’t be a time-limit to it,” said one official. “But we can try to find a wording to show it’ll never be used.”

Hmm.

REVEALED: What May told Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that will ENRAGE Britons at home (Express)

Pics: GIS

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane

This afternoon.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane introduced a bill in the Dáil to extend Freedom of Information law to include the Office of the President.

He said:

“There’s absolutely, in my view, no impediment to the Office of the President and all of the spending that goes with that, being subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“I don’t know why Minister [Brendan] Howlin exempted the president’s office at that time. Maybe it was advice from the Attorney General or not, I don’t know. But I believe it was wrong and I simply believe it should be corrected and here’s an opportunity to correct it.

“I’m appealing to parties across all, across this House, all parties to support this Bill. We believe it’s important. It has been an issue in terms of public scrutiny that people believe it should be subject to FOI in my view. I believe it’s the right thing to do.

“And as I said, I’m appealing for support for the Bill and I formally move the Bill at first stage.”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

Earlier: How Was It For You?

Pic: Richie McCann via President.ie

Last night.

On the Virgin Media One presidential debate hosted by Pat Kenny…

Mr Kenny asked all of the candidates who was in favour of water charges – asking those in favour of them to put their hands up.

Former Dragons’ Den stars Peter Casey, Seán Gallagher and Gavin Duffy all indicated they were in favour of water charges, while Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada said she wasn’t.

Mr Kenny then turned to incumbent Michael D Higgins and they had this exchange:

Kenny: “And Michael D? As a socialist?”

Higgins: “I was an incumbent President that had to look at the legislation in front of me, in terms of its constitutionality.”

Kenny: “No, but the point is, you, personally, as a socialist, are you in favour of water charges?

Higgins:I’m not entitled to have an opinion as president…”

Kenny: “You’re entitled, as a campaigner, to have an opinion.”

Higgins: “…in relation to a matter that is  coming before me that will require, for example, me to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to its constitutionality.”

Mr Kenny then attempted to move on and ask another question but Senator Joan Freeman reminded him that he didn’t ask her for her opinion on water charges.

She said she wasn’t in favour but she did pay her water charges bill.

Watch back in full here

Earlier: How Was It For You?

Behold: Treow Brycg House at Kingsburg Beach on the south coast of Nova Scotia – a brooding structure redolent of some futuristic military installation but actually modelled on the vernacular gambrel-roofed barns of the area.

Designed both to resist and embrace the unpredictable coastal climate and control solar gain, the steel-walled house – on two levels with a separate interstitial zone for circulation – is slatted with brise soleils and clad in darkened aluminium.

uncrate

Free next week?

Get up out of your Crying Chair.

James writes:

Almost forgot about the housing and healthcare crisis?

A Well-timed production of Rent the musical at the Liberty Hall theatre, Eden Quay, Dublin 1 running October 23 – 27. Featuring Carl Stallwood (Mrs Browns Boys D’Movie), Adam Weafer (Coronation Street, Red Rock), Karl Dawson (98FM) and more….

Tickets here

Hues Productions