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Monday 21 October 2019

I kept my Tom in the dark, says PR wife Terry Prone

SMALL WORLD: Tom Savage and his wife, Terry Prone. The couple own the PR firm The Communications Company, which advised Catholic clergy
in the wake of the 'Prime Time Investigates' programme that had been aired by the State broadcaster of which Mr Savage is chairman
SMALL WORLD: Tom Savage and his wife, Terry Prone. The couple own the PR firm The Communications Company, which advised Catholic clergy in the wake of the 'Prime Time Investigates' programme that had been aired by the State broadcaster of which Mr Savage is chairman
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

RTE chairman Tom Savage remains unaware of any potential conflicts of interest that may arise through his directorship of The Communications Clinic because his wife Terry Prone does not tell him.

The couple came under pressure this week when it emerged that their public-relations company provided media training for religious orders whose members were implicated in the Prime Time Investigates programme that defamed Fr Kevin Reynolds.

Ms Prone told the Sunday Independent yesterday that her husband, a former priest, only found out this week that his company trained the Irish Missionary Union to deal with the potential fallout from the Mission To Prey broadcast.

The TV personality said she did not see how people could perceive a conflict of interest from the IMU training or from services that their media-relations company might provide to RTE broadcasters.

Ms Prone commented: "People could perceive that I had three ears and a tail but that doesn't make it fact."

Full story Page 25

Mr Savage and his wife were among the select few chosen to sit in the audience for Friday's 50th anniversary for The Late Late Show.

Mr Savage told an Oireachtas Communications Committee questioning him on the Prime Time Investigates debacle that he had never encountered a potential conflict of interest since he joined the RTE board.

He said: "I have to say categorically that in the three-and-a-half years I have been chairman of the board, not a single issue has cropped up at board level where I have had to absent myself from the discussion because I had a conflict of interest."

However, on Tuesday it emerged that Mr Savage and Ms Prone's public-relations company provided media training for the IMU a month before RTE broadcast defamatory allegations about Fr Reynolds.

Five priests, including the head of Fr Reynolds's order, Fr Michael Corcoran, attended two training sessions with the public-relations guru in anticipation of a backlash.

Ms Prone stated that her husband was not aware of these meetings or that she prepared a statement for the IMU, which was released on the day Mission To Prey aired.

The television analyst said she did not know about Fr Reynolds's denial prior to broadcast and added that if she did she would not have told her husband.

"No, not all -- and even if I had I would not have discussed it with Tom," she said.

"If I discussed it with Tom, it would be to suggest that he do something about it."

The Communications Clinic website states that their clients include "a clutch of the country's top broadcasters".

But again, Ms Prone said it was not improper for the Communications Clinic to give training to RTE broadcasters.

She said: "They would be from all the radio and television stations -- where's the conflict of interest?

"Tom Savage has nothing to do with any individual broadcast, so there is simply no conceivable problem."

Sunday Independent

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