Thursday 15 November 2018

RTÉ's Reynolds 'not under directions of Garda HQ, what he did was honest' - tribunal on leaked report

Paul Reynolds at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Paul Reynolds at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Andrew Phelan

The Disclosures Tribunal accepted RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds's assertions that he was not influenced by Garda Headquarters, saying he was an "independent reporter" and what he did was "honest".

One of the terms of reference of the tribunal was to investigate whether then-deputy Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, using briefing from Garda Headquarters, influenced or tried to influence broadcasts on RTÉ on May 9, 2016, "purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O'Higgins Commission Report".

That commission had examined concerns raised by Sergeant Maurice McCabe about alleged failures of policing in the Cavan-Monaghan district.

Its findings were not officially published until May 11, 2016, but a series of broadcasts on the leaked report aired on RTÉ TV and radio on May 9.

In evidence to the tribunal, Mr Reynolds had insisted his reports were "fair and balanced", and had been through the "full rigours of the RTÉ editorial process".

He told the tribunal that all of the information in the broadcasts came from the leaked O'Higgins report itself.

He denied any influence by Garda Headquarters or Ms O'Sullivan.

"While there was a reference to an untruth told by Maurice McCabe to the O'Higgins Commission, there can be no criticism for reporting that," Mr Justice Charleton noted.

The report also found that where it was stated in the terms of reference that Sgt McCabe "being branded as irresponsible", this was inaccurate.

"The tribunal accepts the evidence of Paul Reynolds that no one in Garda Headquarters was influencing his broadcasts," the judge said. "He gave honest evidence to the tribunal and he was entitled to his view on the O'Higgins Commission upon his examination of a leaked copy of the report.

"What Paul Reynolds did was honest. He was not under the directions of Garda Headquarters and he went about his job as an intelligent and independent reporter. In no sense was he a tool of the higher echelons of Garda Headquarters."

Irish Independent

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