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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Martin ramps up pressure on RTE over abuse claims

"If this were in the church the bishops would be told to voluntarily resign rather than stand aside. The level of accountability has to be questioned here, it took a long time before people came and held their hands up and said 'look we made a serious mistake here'," he said.

The senior cleric said he felt it important that people step aside while an investigation was carried out but added he felt there was a tendency at RTE to "identify some kind of a mid-management person in these cases".

He said the Reynolds case raised "basic questions about the controls that there are in an organisation which would allow this to happen to anybody".

"This was a very serious allegation, the man offered to have a paternity test done, so we need to understand why, and who, and at what level those decisions were made," he said.

"There is an investigation going on to see exactly what happened but I imagine the journalist felt there were sources there and we will have to see whether or not the security checks were in place and properly adhered to," he added.

The archbishop said he would not cast any judgments while investigations into the case were ongoing but it "worried him" how a story was broadcast which was later described by RTE in its apology as "baseless and untrue".

"What worries me is RTE say this is without foundation, baseless and untrue. How did it come that it was adjudicated that there was a semblance of truth here?" he asked.

"I don't know what evidence was presented to whoever asked Fr Reynolds to step aside but RTE made their programme, they seemed to be defended by many people the next day, 'Morning Ireland' picked it up and the Minister for Justice made statements on it and now we hear it was without foundation," he added.

Respect

Archbishop Martin said he had never heard an apology from RTE "in such clear terms" and called for greater accountability in the media.

"In the UK you have the issue of the behaviour of some 'News of the World' journalists -- obviously self monitoring hasn't always worked. We have to foster press freedom and respect it, but if journalists can act irresponsibly or newspapers or public broadcasting authorities then we need a situation where there is accountability to satisfy the public that this kind of thing can't happen to you or I," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Fr Reynolds's solicitor Robert Dore said he was to meet with his client later this week in response to claims made this weekend over the source of the story.

Separate newspapers reported that a priest had made the allegations and that the story had been confirmed by a teacher in Kenya.

"We have yet to discuss what we are going to do. There are three investigations going on," he said.

"You are looking at a guy who has been plucked out of obscurity and landed in the limelight."

Irish Independent

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