RTÉ’s pension scheme in top condition
Unlike the broadcaster itself, the RTÉ pension scheme is awash with cash. With assets of €1.2 billion and liabilities of €0.83 billion, there’s plenty of leeway to top up the pensions of its members. Any increase must be approved by both the Minister for Arts and the Minister for Public Expenditure, however, which is a slow and convoluted process. Since 2008, members of the RTÉ Superannuation Scheme have had just one increase – of 2 per cent in 2022, which the trustees had applied for about 18 months earlier.
Unlike the RTÉ stars, the 1,596 pensioners in the scheme are not well remunerated. “The RTÉ pension is normally their only source of income, as RTÉ’s employees were not allowed to pay a full PRSI stamp to qualify for the contributory old-age pension,” Stephanie Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for the RTÉ Retired Staff Association, points out. “Over one-third are on pensions of less than €20,000.”
Last September, as inflation soared and the elderly pensioners suffered a decrease in their standard of living, the trustees applied to Catherine Martin, the media minister, for a once-off 2.5 per cent increase. That would cost about €20 million, a tiny proportion of the available surplus assets of more than €300 million. Martin has told the Dáil she is being advised by the National Treasury Management Agency’s New ERA unit in relation to the request, and is still considering it. Only when she is finished can the application go to Paschal Donohoe.
Documents released to us under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that New Era “has raised concerns about the risk of RTÉ having to provide additional funding” to the pension scheme. Yet the need for a bailout seems remote, especially as the scheme was closed to new members in 1989.
Meanwhile RTÉ still has to choose a new chair for the scheme, after Conor Hayes, the former chief financial officer and former Ryanair chief executive, stepped down as a trustee last December. Paula Mullooly, RTÉ’s director of legal affairs, has been appointed temporary chair.
Link to article (paywalled) https://www.irishtimes.com/business/2023/07/21/how-much-are-we-paying-to-bring-the-ryder-cup-to-adare-manor/