RTÉ staff were given almost a full day’s notice of a controversial gathering that took place during lockdown at the broadcaster’s Donnybrook studio last year.
The reminder, issued in an internal communication more than 21 hours prior, is contrary to RTÉ’s previous claim that the event was an “impromptu” gathering.
The incident led to a Garda investigation to determine whether any Covid guidelines were breached in organising the event, with a file being recently submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The inquiry looked at how the event was organised and how this was communicated to other staff.
It has emerged that an email was sent to employees in the News and Current Affairs department the day before a presentation to retiring staff member Phil Collins took place.
The internal email, sent by a newsroom administrator at 4.53pm on November 11, read: “Just a reminder that there will be a presentation to Phil, TV reception, on Thursday 12th
of November at 2pm.
“There is a card at reception if anybody would like to sign it.”
The national broadcaster had previously described the gathering as a “short impromptu event”.
A spokesman said “As the file is now being sent to the DPP by An Garda Síochána, RTÉ is not in a position to comment.”
A separate email sent earlier that week had notified staff that Ms Collins was retiring on the date in question and that a card would be available to sign for her at TV reception.
Some of the national broadcaster’s biggest stars, including Bryan Dobson, Miriam O’Callaghan and David McCullagh, as well as managing director of RTÉ News, Jon Williams, were present and later issued apologies.
An investigation was launched by officers at Donnybrook Garda Station to determine whether the event was organised and what, if any, breaches of Covid-19 regulations took place.
It occurred while the country was in a Level 5 lockdown due to an increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
In the days after the event, representatives from RTÉ met with gardaí to assist them with their inquiries.
The maximum sanction for organising an event in breach of Covid-19 regulations under the Health Act, on conviction, is a fine of up to €2,500 and/or up to six months’
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