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Thursday 14 December 2017

Fr Reynolds says Prone personally helped him draft response to RTE

Terry Prone.
Terry Prone.

Barry Duggan

FRESH questions have been raised about the role of a public relations firm co-owned by RTE chairman Tom Savage in the Fr Kevin Reynolds affair.

In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Fr Reynolds yesterday revealed for the first time how Mr Savage's wife, PR consultant Terry Prone, personally agreed to assist him after he was defamed by the national broadcaster.

The assistance given to Fr Reynolds was not previously disclosed by Ms Prone, who only admitted aiding an umbrella group of Irish missionaries.

This initial disclosure prompted questions about her husband's knowledge about the early stages of the Fr Reynolds affair. Ms Prone insisted she never discussed the Fr Kevin Reynolds issue with him.

But according to Fr Reynolds, Ms Prone -- who runs the Communications Clinic with her husband -- agreed to assist the priest with a statement days after the broadcast of the infamous 'Prime Time Mission to Prey' programme.

The programme falsely alleged he had fathered a child with a Kenyan woman.

Fr Reynolds told the Irish Independent that Ms Prone never pointed out to him at the time that Mr Savage was her husband or that he was a director of the Communications Clinic or RTE chairman.

The revelation will re-open the controversy over the extent to which Mr Savage's company had knowledge of issues surrounding the programme.

He has so far faced down calls for his resignation.

The RTE chairman has claimed he only learned of the issues surrounding the programme four months after it was broadcast and was completely in the dark about public relations work done by his wife in connection with it. And while Ms Prone has previously acknowledged doing work for the Irish Missionary Union, which includes Fr Reynolds's order the Mill Hill Missionaries, she never revealed communicating directly with Fr Reynolds.

Allegations

Fr Reynolds said he was asked repeatedly by family and friends to draw up a public statement contradicting the false allegations made against him on the RTE programme on May 23, 2011.

In the days after the broadcast, Fr Reynolds said he sourced Ms Prone's phone number from a colleague and contacted her himself seeking professional assistance as he attempted to draw up a statement.

"I got her number. I phoned her and asked her whether she would help me. She agreed and kindly helped me to put a statement together -- a brief statement -- over a few days," Fr Reynolds said.

After the initial phone call, Fr Reynolds said correspondence between himself and Ms Prone regarding the statement was via email.

"As it turned out, that statement was never used or never published," he said. "I was grateful to Terry Prone for that help but we had no contact at any level since then."

Ms Prone did not agree to a request from the Irish Independent for an interview yesterday, stating she was busy with clients.

However, in two text messages, she said Fr Reynolds was never a client of the Communications Clinic but confirmed he contacted her to look at a statement for him. "Fr R rang me out of blue, v distressed -- had never met/talked to him. Would I look at a statement? Did. Statement never issued. End of," Ms Prone's text read.

Last night, an RTE spokesperson said Mr Savage had no comment to make at this time.

Irish Independent

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