Tuesday 16 October 2018

RTE denies dropping McDowell speech

RONALD QUINLAN

RTE has denied claims that a speech made by former Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell in Dublin last Thursday night was kept off the nine o'clock news over fears that its content may have been "legally problematical".

In the course of his address at the launch of TCD academic Elaine Byrne's book, Political Corruption in Ireland 1922 -- 2010 A Crooked Harp, Mr McDowell made particular reference to 'oligarchs' when commenting on the matter of media ownership and liberty.

While it had been expected that the former Tanaiste's speech would be covered on RTE 1's nine o'clock news programme, given the presence of the broadcaster's cameras and political correspondents David Davin Power and David McCullough at the event, the item did not feature.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, a source claimed that a view had been taken that the item may have been "legally problematical".

Explaining this, the source said: "There was a specific problem with the word 'oligarch'. People weren't happy with that. I don't know that any particular legal advice was taken. There was just a view. There was a fear of litigation."

Contacted for comment on that claim, a spokeswoman for RTE said: "The item will be going out on the Week in Politics. It didn't make the nine o'clock news because there was an issue of timing. There was a genuine disappointment that it didn't make the nine o'clock news."

Asked how comprehensive the Week in Politics would be in its treatment of Mr McDowell's speech, the spokeswoman said: "If it's done on the Week in Politics, by definition you know it will be done. It will be done in depth and there will be an interview with Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte following it."

Sunday Independent

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