From top: Yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday; Ryan Tubridy (left) interviewing Pat Spillane in June 2019; Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development; his request for details of Pat Spillane’s RTE pay.
In the Irish Mail on Sunday,
Journalist Ken Foxe, of RightToKnowIE, revealed Minister Michael Ring used Freedom of Information to try and find out how much GAA analyst Pat Spillane had been paid by RTÉ.
The request came four days after Mr Spillane had criticised Mr Ring and the Fine Gael government on The Late Late Show.
Mr Spillane said Mr Ring was ‘handing out grants’ rather than regenerating rural Ireland
He told host Ryan Tubridy::
“Grants are great, but grants are short term, sticking-plaster solutions and they are political … throwing meat to the lions.
These projects are not about people … Rural development has to be people-centred and people-driven. The minister is getting very bad advice. They have to bring jobs to rural Ireland.”
Ken Foxe writes:
When I first tried to find out the identity of the TD who made the request, RTÉ refused to release it saying they considered that it constituted the “private papers” of the Oireachtas member. This is the exemption famously used to hide politicians’ expenses:
Interestingly, RTÉ said they had contacted the person in question to establish if they sought the records “as part of their work as a TD or as part of their work in an FOI’able body” e.g. a government department.
The TD said it was “sought as part of their role as a TD”
This was despite the fact that Mr Spillane worked directly for Minister Ring’s department. Mr Spillane was also in direct contact with Mr Ring in his role as rural ambassador.
Through RightToKnowIE, we appealed RTÉ’s decision and after internal review their decision was overturned
Going back to request itself, I asked Mr Ring about assertion this was done in his capacity as a TD, rather than in his capacity as a minister.
The “private papers” exemption could not have applied if request was made as a minister. His spokesman said he would not be commenting.
Notable that he also sought for the information to be “relayed … as a matter of urgency”.
He did not get what he was looking for however, as the salary/expenses and so on are considered “personal information” and the request was refused.
Michael Ring pic: Rollingnews