COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER PAT Rabbitte has said that there were no resignations sought or offered by the board of RTÉ this morning following a meeting in the wake of the BAI’s report into the Mission to Prey programme.
RTÉ said that Rabbitte had indicated there should be no changes on the board following the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s report into the Prime Time Investigates programme which libelled Fr Kevin Reynolds.
According to RTÉ Radio, Rabbitte said that he was was satisfied that the board fully appreciates the seriousness of the situation and said that no excuses were offered during the meeting this morning which lasted over two hours.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting he described the Mission to Prey programme as an “egregious error”. Quoted on RTÉ Radio, he said there was “no attempt by the board of RTÉ to defend what happened”.
“The chairman described it as inexplicable and indefensible and some other members of the board used a lot stronger terms. I’m satisfied that the board fully appreciates the seriousness of what has happened,” he said.
“The board attempted to offer no excuse for what happened. The board accepts that it ought not to have happened and that it did damage not just to the reputation of Fr Reynolds but did damage to the reputation of RTÉ.”
Rabbitte had called the meeting in the wake of the BAI’s findings that RTÉ had breached the broadcasting code in its production of a programme which defamed Fr Reynolds. RTÉ later retracted and apologised for allegations made as well as paying damages to the priest.
The State broadcaster was fined €200,000 by the authority with the reporter who worked on the story, Aoife Kavanagh, resigning from RTÉ following the report’s publication.
As well as axing the new Prime Time Investigates format, new journalism guidelines were introduced at the station. RTÉ said on Friday that “a great deal has changed in recent months” and pledged that “more will change as we embed the new structures”.
On top of Kavanagh’s departure, programme makers Brian Pairceir and Ken O’Shea were transferred out of the news and current affairs department in RTÉ while producer Mark Lappin now works for CNN in London. The former Head of News, Ed Mulhall, took a retirement package.
Following the publication of the report carried out by former BBC executive Anna Carragher on Friday, Rabbitte described the Mission to Prey programme as “a shoddy, unprofessional, cavalier, and damaging piece of work”.