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Shatter row over priest libel drags on

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Alan Shatter

Alan Shatter

Alan Shatter

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter remained under pressure last night to apologise for supporting the RTE programme that defamed Fr Kevin Reynolds.

Mr Shatter made a public statement the morning after the RTE 'Prime Time Investigates' programme last year, which falsely accused the Galway priest of rape and of fathering a daughter with a Kenyan woman.

The minister said at the time he had watched the programme with a "sense of revulsion" at the unspeakable catalogue of abuse against children it had revealed.

Mr Shatter also contacted Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan about the programme -- saying that people were entitled to be reassured that everything was being done to counteract this "evil".

But Association of Catholic Priests spokesman Fr Sean McDonagh said Mr Shatter had yet to apologise for the statement: "It was totally inappropriate for a Minister for Justice and for a solicitor on the morning after the programme to be calling them 'revelations' rather than 'allegations'. It's judge and jury; it's not a small matter. You have a right to your good name," he said.

Fr McDonagh has had no response from the minister or from the Department of Justice to his criticism.

Mr Shatter's spokesperson said the minister had already explained his remarks following the programme were based on "an assumption that the matters detailed on the programme had been fully researched".

"The fact remains that the Murphy Report into the Archdiocese of Dublin and Cloyne set out in stark detail the unacceptable behaviour of church authorities in handling cases of sexual abuse of children and it would be cynical, and clearly not in the interests of children, to seek to distract from that by reference to one particular extremely flawed television programme or the reaction to it," the spokesperson said.

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