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RTE claim priest accuser understood questioning


Fr Kevin Reynolds

Fr Kevin Reynolds


RTE has rejected a claim that the woman at the centre of the Fr Kevin Reynolds controversy did not understand the questions she was being asked during the making of the programme.

A family member of Veneranda Mudi -- the woman who claimed she had been raped and had a child by the priest in Kenya -- said she did not understand what she was being asked.

However, RTE sources have rejected this outright, saying that expert translators were used at all stages, and each translation was verified a number of times.

They also said that there was "no doubt" among the investigative team that she fully understood what she was being asked.

A Mudi family source last night said the whole issue has "brought shame" on them.

They claimed she "misinterpreted" the questions which were being asked of her by the Prime Time Investigates team and did not fully realise their implications.

Last May, the Prime Time programme falsely accused Galway priest Fr Kevin Reynolds of fathering a child in Kenya with Veneranda 30 years ago.

Fr Reynolds strongly denied the allegation from the outset, but the programme was aired and Fr Reynolds temporarily stepped aside from ministry.

After a DNA test confirmed he was not the father, RTE apologised to the priest and accepted the allegations were baseless and untrue. Fr Reynolds was awarded undisclosed damages by the High Court and received an apology.

Last night a Mudi family member said the rumours that Veneranda's daughter Sheila was fathered by a white man began when she was a baby because her skin tone was much lighter than her mother's.

"There were rumours (locally) and that grew into something people believed," he said last night.

"She didn't know what she was saying, she wasn't lying. She didn't understand about the Irish priest. We're sorry and we want everything to end."

He said Veneranda is "not happy" with what has happened -- but she also blames herself and her lack of education as she doesn't speak English.

"She is also blaming herself for not going to school, she didn't understand everything.

"To the Irish people and the priest, we're very sorry for the whole thing," he said, adding that they are "ashamed" by what has happened. "The priest is a very good guy and we are very sorry for the whole thing."

But a well placed source said last night that Veneranda was interviewed by the RTE team a number of times and verified her story each time.

It was also translated and checked a number of times, they said.


RTE is due to respond next week to a report which was carried out by the BAI on the orders of Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

Yesterday the broadcaster said it was "disappointed" that the report was leaked "and prejudices the response of the programme-makers as named individuals". "If fair regulatory procedures are to apply, RTÉ and the production team must be allowed to make submissions to the BAI in response to the report, within the process," a statement said.

Last week RTE announced the managing director of RTE at the time the programme was aired, Ed Mulhall, is to retire, while Ken O'Shea resigned from his post as editor of current affairs and will be transferred to an assignment in television.

Executive producer Brian Pairceir and reporter Aoife Kavanagh are currently not involved in any on-air programming. RTE has also axed the award-winning series.

. "Things were poorly done," the family member said, adding that it was a poor investigation. "They should be ashamed of themselves. I'd like to know the person who started this story." An RTE spokesman last night said that they were precluded from commenting on the production of the programme until the BAI investigation was completed.