THE MINISTER FOR Communications Pat Rabbitte has condemned the Mission to Prey programme broadcast by RTÉ’s Prime Time Investigates as “a shoddy, unprofessional, cavalier, and damaging piece of work”.
The investigation by the former BBC executive Anna Carragher on behalf of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) examined the programme which defamed a Galway priest, Fr Kevin Reynolds, wrongly accusing him of fathering a child while a missionary in Africa in the 1980s.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News this evening, Rabbitte said the BAI report had revealed “systematic failings” on behalf of the programme-makers. He added he found it disturbing that a man’s reputation could suffer so much damage based on nothing more than “uncorroborated gossip”.
“It’s more serious than I suspected at the time,” Rabbitte said.
In a statement released earlier, Rabbitte said:
It is clear that the Report poses a fundamental challenge for RTÉ if it is to re-establish the high level of trust that it has enjoyed amongst the Irish people. Regaining that trust is critical for RTÉ given that it is the Public Service broadcaster and significantly funded by the TV licence.
However, the Minister also commended the national broadcaster for the “raft of changes” it had implemented since the controversy broke.
When pushed on whether he retained any confidence in the RTÉ board, Rabbite said: “My confidence has been shaken, but I want to see what (the board) has to say”.
Rabbitte has requested a meeting with the RTÉ board and chairman for 8am on Tuesday morning to discuss the finding of the report.