Wednesday 24 April 2019

RTE’S big night overshadowed by crisis as senior staff step aside

Weather presenter Karina Buckley (left) and sister Yvonne at the launch last night
Weather presenter Karina Buckley (left) and sister Yvonne at the launch last night
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with RTE chairman Tom Savage at the launch of John Bowman's new book
Author John Bowman at the National Museum last night.
Presenter Sean O'Rourke describes the late Colm Murray as a person 'who lit up the room'

Breda Heffernan

IT was meant to be the centrepiece of RTE's 50th anniversary celebrations, but there was no mistaking the elephant sitting squarely in the middle of the room.

First, there was the storm of criticism over the massive pay packets enjoyed by its biggest stars. But that has since paled into insignificance with the furore over the defamation of Fr Kevin Reynolds.

It was hardly the most opportune time, then, to celebrate the launch of presenter and historian John Bowman's book chronicling half-a-century of the broadcaster, 'Window and Mirror: RTE Television 1961-2011'.

However, the great and the good of RTE put on a brave face as they gathered in the National Museum of Ireland on Dublin's Kildare Street last night.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was there to officially launch the book only 24 hours after lamenting the "grievous" drop in standards at RTE.

Management and broadcasters attending the event were reluctant to comment on the decision of Ed Mulhall and Ken O'Shea to "step aside".

Presenter Sean O'Rourke said it was "tough time" for those involved in the 'Prime Time Investigates' programme. Referring to the Government-ordered inquiry into the scandal, he said: "We're just hoping that when it's all over that the station will be able to regain the trust of the Irish people."

Meanwhile, Mike Murphy said that when government ministers made mistakes, journalists called for their resignations and so it was not unfair a "similar approach" was taken in this case.

"I do think if you're going to be dishing it out, as journalists tend to do, you have to take it when it comes your way," he said.

RTE managing director of television, Glen Killane, refused to talk to the waiting media when he arrived at the book launch in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin last night.

However, in his speech he alluded to the controversy, saying he was delighted to be there representing RTE -- "really I am, given the day that's in it".

As he arrived, Gay Byrne said he did not want to comment on the decision of the two men to step aside.

"I don't want to get involved in that. There are too many people involved already," he added.

Irish Independent

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