Wednesday 21 November 2018

RTE boss to be quizzed by TDs over priest libel

Mark Hilliard

THE head of RTE is to be called before an Oireachtas committee to explain "systematic failures" that led to a massive libel settlement.

Fr Kevin Reynolds (65) this week agreed to a settlement -- understood to be in excess of €1m -- after a 'Prime Time Investigates' programme incorrectly claimed he had fathered a child in Africa.

Speaking on his radio show yesterday, broadcaster Pat Kenny said about the journalist at the centre of the report, Aoife Kavanagh: "She professionally has been truly humiliated."

Ms Kavanagh was unavailable for comment last night.

RTE has said that an independent "review of editorial processes" in current affairs is under way.


But a spokesman maintained it is "not an investigation into a specific programme edition".

However, the station's director general Noel Curran and other members of the RTE Authority and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland are to be summoned to a meeting of the Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture to explain the editorial process in the run-up to the airing of the programme.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, committee chairman Andrew Doyle said he believed the issues must be addressed in the public interest.

"They face questions about the systematic failure that seems to have taken place here," he said.

"It undermines confidence in investigative journalism which usually should be in the public interest. It's quite obvious from this that all the checks and balances were not adhered to.

"I would expect that RTE would send their director general, I wouldn't be very happy if they didn't."

However, he said the committee would not endeavour to ascertain details of the settlement after both sides signed a confidentiality clause.

"In fairness to the party (Fr Reynolds) that has been absolved here, their privacy is also important," he said.

"The amount is not the issue here, it is the proper due process."

Meanwhile, as the fallout from the programme continued yesterday, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said he shared the public concern on the issue.

He added he was "confident that the director general and the board of RTE will deal with the issues arising in an effective and thorough manner".


Irish Independent

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