‘Conflict of interest’ form for RTÉ staff to be up and running later this month

A separate register to seek approval for external activities will be made available on 1 February. Alamy Stock Photo

Register of interests

A letter to staff said certain staff and contractors in RTÉ will be required to fill out the form annually.

A FORM TO raise conflicts of interest by RTÉ staff with line management will be up and running later this month, the broadcaster’s boss confirmed today.

In an internal letter, sent to staff this afternoon, RTÉ’s director general Kevin Bakhurst announced that staff members would receive forms from Human Relations outlining to staff how such forms should be filled out and returned.

The RTÉ boss also added that certain staff and contractors will also be required to fill out the form annually.

The ‘Register of Interests’ was first signalled to staff in August, shortly after the payment scandal sent shockwaves through the broadcaster, in order to allow staff to raise concerns about potential conflicts with line management.

As part of this plan, it will allow individuals, in decision-making positions, to disclose information they deem relevant that could “materially influence” them or their immediate family.

If there are no such issues, it said it is “good practice” to make a “nil return” to confirm those particular staff member have no concerns about their work or any potential conflicts of interest.

RTÉ boss Kevin Bakurst. Alamy


Writing to staff today, Bakhurst said: “I indicated during the summer that an RTÉ Register of Interests would be established in keeping with best practice as recommended by the Standards in Public Office Commission.”

He confirmed to staff today that the broadcaster will require “certain staff and contractors” to make an annual, recurring return under the Register of Interests in the interest of the new boss’ view to make the station more transparent.

Bakhurst added that the full description of how the register will work will be made available to the staff through its intranet.

‘External activities’ register on it’s way

In the same note to staff, Bakhurst detailed that the broadcaster’s intended plan to introduce a standardised process across RTÉ for seeking approval for external activities will be published on 1 February.

The register will then be made available to staff once each quarter after that, the letter says.

There will be a standard external activities form which must be completed by any person seeking approval for external activities to ensure the same process applies across RTÉ.

The purpose of the form is to identify conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest that may or may not be seen to conflict with the national broadcaster’s obligations.

An example of this could include a journalist’s or presenter’s intention to work with another brand, organisation or make a guest appearance as a host at events or a broadcast that are separate to RTÉ.

The broadcaster’s bosses will have the ability to accept or deny requests from staff, on the basis that it aligns with RTÉ’s current objectives.

The director general said today: “To underline RTÉ’s commitment to our impartiality, we will publish details of approved activities on a quarterly basis, to include the name of the person, summary details of the activity approved and any payment/benefit in a banded system.

“In addition, an Oversight Group, will review all approvals and rejections on a 6 monthly basis with a view to monitoring our decision making, and if appropriate, to recommend any amendments,” he added.

It’s understood both plans were constructed between RTÉ management, the National Union of Journalists, RTÉ Trade Union Group and other relevant unions.

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