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'My current affairs job was ended by politics'

BILL O'Herlihy says he "resents" comparisons between a hugely controversial news investigation he conducted in the 1960s and the Fr Kevin Reynolds libel storm.

Fr Reynolds made an out-of-court settlement with RTE last year after being falsely accused on Prime Time Investigates of having raped and impregnated a Kenyan teenager.

In the 1960s, O'Herlihy was a journalist with 7 Days, a predecessor of Prime Time Investigates.

And a probe carried out by the programme into illegal money lending was later branded "not authentic" by a Dail-appointed tribunal.

As Mr O'Herlihy (74) recounts in his new autobiography, We'll Leave It There So, the fallout ended his career as a current affairs journalist.

The Fr Reynolds row was "entirely different", he told the Herald in an interview at his Eastmoreland Lane offices, off Baggot Street Upper.

"There was no foundation whatsoever for that one (the Prime Time story)."


He said he gets "very resentful when people bring up the money-lending tribunal in the same breath as they bring up the Fr Reynolds thing".

"They were in a different league entirely," he insisted.

O'Herlihy, now the face of RTE's soccer coverage, believes the appointment of the tribunal to look at his own report was "a political move".

"It was a very political thing to get at RTE, and it succeeded.

"I think the Fr Kevin Reynolds thing was entirely different. And it has had a desperate impact on RTE."

The fallout from the Prime Time Investigates programme which libelled the Galway priest has even affected sports broadcasting.

"When we were doing the European Championships we had to be briefed in advance by the lawyers in case we said things that we shouldn't say," he revealed.

"The legal people didn't want us falling into a kind of an extravagant comment about somebody that could actually lead to litigation afterwards," he told the Herald.