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Friday 19 January 2018

Complaint upheld against Derek Mooney for 'supporting same-sex marriage' on air

RTE presenter Derek Mooney
RTE presenter Derek Mooney
Derek Mooney. Photo: Mark Condren

Sam Griffin

A complaint against RTE has been upheld by the broadcasting standards watchdog, while another complaint against a documentary made by TV3 has been partly upheld.

A segment on 'The Mooney Show', broadcast on RTE Radio One on January 20, was complained against on the basis that it had breached objectivity and impartiality.

The complainant, Donal O’Sullivan – Latchford from the Family and Media Association, stated that the show’s presenter Derek Mooney had made “several statements implicitly and explicitly supporting same-sex marriage” during a discussion on the number of civil partnerships in Ireland.

The complainant also said the show’s guests, former RTE news reader Michael Murphy and Tiernan Brady from the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, had also made comments supporting same-sex marriage and that there were no voices heard opposing same-sex marriages.

RTE responded that the segment was not supposed to be a debate on this issue but rather a “personal viewpoint by Mr Murphy” on his experience of civil partnership. It said it had not taken in the context of a referendum on same-sex unions as no date for such a referendum as been set.

But the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Complaints Committee upheld the complaint and noted that the segment constituted current affairs content on an issue of current public debate and so there were requirements of fairness, objectivity and impartiality governing the segment and that these “had not been met”.

Another complaint against the TV3 documentary A Search for Justice: Death in Bray” was partly upheld.

The documentary examined the deaths of Sebastian Creane and injuries sustained by others as a result of the actions of Shane Clancy who died by suicide.

Mr Clancy’s mother Leonie Fennell complained that the documentary-makers broadcast material, including CCTV footage of her son’s final hours, which she did not wish to be aired.

She also complained that she had been promised there would be no reconstructions of the events and said TV3 had misled viewers by discussing ‘a journal’ attributed to her son which she said did not exist.

She also complained about comments made by psychiatrists and comments made following the documentary on the Vince Browne programme. Ms Farrell had also requested that her contributions to the documentary not be used.

TV3 responded that the complainant had signed two release forms and that it had been too late to accommodate the complainant’s request on the day before the broadcast and rejected accusations that it had not taken due care towards the complainant.

The BAI ruled the broadcaster had not demonstrated due care towards Ms Fennell, but rejected complaints that comments in the documentary had made a correlation between a criminal act and Shane Clancy’s mental health.

The complaints were published today by the BAI. Eleven were rejected. Two were resolved by the authority’s Executive Complaints forum.

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