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Gardaí meet RTÉ reps over social distancing breaches at staff party


David McCullagh, Phil Collins and Miriam O’Callaghan at the gathering

David McCullagh, Phil Collins and Miriam O’Callaghan at the gathering

David McCullagh, Phil Collins and Miriam O’Callaghan at the gathering

RTÉ representatives have met with gardaí investigating a farewell party that saw breaches of Covid-19 social distancing guidelines.

The broadcaster has also signalled its willingness to participate in a planned Oireachtas Media Committee examination of the incident.

Moya Doherty, the chairperson of RTÉ's board, said the failure to adhere to proper social distancing procedures at the gathering is "of serious concern".

"As has been already ack- nowledged by the individuals present, there is an onus on all of us in RTÉ to be both above reproach and to lead by example at this time of exceptional national chall-enge," she said.


Ms Doherty has asked for an update on the matter, and the board is to discuss it at its meeting next week.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin reiterated last night that what happened at RTÉ was "very disappointing", while acknowledging there have been "genuine apologies from all concerned".

He said investigations are under way and that an RTÉ presentation at a committee meeting would "probably be a required follow-through".

Some of the broadcaster's biggest stars, including Bryan Dobson, Miriam O'Callaghan and David McCullagh, have issued apologies on air about their attendance.

It came after photos emerged of them posing for pictures without social distancing or wearing masks at the retirement event for their colleague, Phil Collins.

Eimear Cusack, director of human resources at RTÉ, issued a statement yesterday evening in which she said: "Those involved have rightly apologised.

"We are all extremely disappointed and frustrated with what has happened, but it is important that we all understand what occurred and learn from it."

Ms Cusack said there is a full health and safety review in progress and confirmed RTÉ representatives met with the gardaí.

"While this inquiry is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further," she added.


Oireachtas Media Committee chairperson, Fianna Fáil TD Niamh Smyth, said RTÉ director general Dee Forbes and other management will be invited to answer questions about the retirement event.

"Obviously from the photographs we can see that social distancing and guidelines weren't adhered to, albeit a momentary lapse in judgment," Ms Smyth told RTÉ Radio yesterday.

However, she added that there is a "much higher standard" expected from "people in the public eye".