Tuesday 22 October 2019

RTÉ refuses to explain 'vandalism' of sports article that led to apology to footballer

Apology: Ireland Under-19 footballer Jake Doyle-Hayes. Photo: Getty Images
Apology: Ireland Under-19 footballer Jake Doyle-Hayes. Photo: Getty Images
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

RTÉ is refusing to clarify details about the "act of vandalism" that led it to apologise to a young Irish footballer written about in derogatory terms in an online news article.

On January 31, the public service broadcaster published an article concerning Aston Villa and Ireland Under-19 international player Jake Doyle-Hayes's transfer on loan from Aston Villa to Cambridge United.

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The piece went out on mobile platforms with a disparaging remark about the Cavan-born player and made certain allegations about his private life.

RTÉ removed the news item but not before it was potentially seen by thousands of readers.

Yesterday, Montrose bosses issued an apology to Mr Doyle-Hayes.

"Unbeknown to us, a mobile version of that article had been vandalised by the inclusion of a rogue sentence which did not bear any relation whatsoever to Mr Doyle-Hayes," it said.

"The fact that this happened is highly regrettable and we apologise unreservedly to Mr Doyle-Hayes for the embarrassment and distress that this has caused, both to him and to his family."

The Irish Independent yesterday asked RTÉ to clarify who engaged in the "vandalism" and how it came about.

RTÉ declined to clarify specific details of the "vandalism" and whether it had been established if it was done internally by someone with access to its systems, or externally by a hacker.

The State broadcaster was asked whether the incident was reported to An Garda Síochána, the Data Protection Commissioner, or its HR department.

It was also asked what investigations were under way internally. But yesterday the licence fee-funded broadcaster said it would not comment on the matter.

It is understood no report was made to the Data Protection Commissioner.

It is unclear if the "vandalism" or hack has breached data protection regulations.

Irish Independent

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