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Tuesday 20 November 2018

RTE executives to 'step aside' during Fr. Reynolds inquiry

Fr Kevin Reynolds. Photo: Collins

ED Mulhall - RTÉ’s News & Current Affairs Managing Director - has decided to step aside for the duration of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland inquiry into the circumstances that led to false allegations being made against Fr Kevin Reynolds by the national station.

The decision was made in agreement with the Director General, Noel Curran.

The Editor of Current Affairs, Ken O'Shea, will also step aside for the duration.

It has also been decided that Prime Time Investigates Executive Producer Brian Páircéir and reporter Aoife Kavanagh will not be involved in any on-air programming over this period.

The Cabinet has requested an independent inquiry into the incident by the BAI. It is expected to report in two months' time.

Last week, Fr Reynolds was awarded massive damages and received an on air radio and TV apology after RTÉ wrongly accused him of sexually abusing a girl and fathering a child while in Kenya.

The next series of the Prime Time Investigates programme has been deferred until editorial reviews have been completed.

He said he agreed with RTÉ's Director General Noel Curran that ''clearly there is a need to see that the very high standard which normally pertains be restored''.

Earlier Minister Pat Rabbitte said that he cannot recall a lapse of the magnitude of the libel of Fr Kevin Reynolds and public disquiet had to be allayed.

Giving a strong vote of confidence to RTE Director General Noel Curran, he said that he had the confidence of the government in dealing with the “huge issues” RTE faces.

The new DG had tackled a wide range of problems with “imagination and determination” he added.

Minister Rabbitte said that he was concerned about Fr Kevin Reynolds as a citizen and resident of this country.

“The fact that he is a Catholic priest does not give RTE or anyone else the right to traduce his reputation,” he said on Morning Ireland.

It is important that the high standard of journalism at RTÉ is restored, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said following the request by Cabinet for an independent inquiry into how Fr Kevin Reynolds was defamed by Primetime Investigates..

Asked if RTÉ could not be trusted to do it, he said RTÉ normally had exceptionally high standards but in this case he said there seems to be a "grievous" drop in those standards.

The "perception", he said, had to be "totally above board".

And he agreed with Mr Curran that "clearly there is a need to see that the very high standard which normally pertains be restored".

Mr Curran, last night distanced himself from the case, insisting he had no role in the decision to air the controversial 'Mission to Prey' programme last May.

He said that as editor-in-chief he took "absolute responsibility" for the libeling of the priest and was treating the case "in the most grave way".

However, speaking on RTE's 'Six One' yesterday, he said he had not been involved in clearing the programme for broadcasting.

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