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Debunked: Is this photo from the recent RTÉ gathering?

Staff from RTÉ did have a social gathering earlier this month – but this photo does not show it.

A PHOTO SHARED on social media is being wrongly described as showing the social gathering of RTÉ staff that took place earlier this month.

The photo shows around twenty people in close proximity, none of whom are wearing face masks or observing social distancing – but it is not from any event this year, despite social media posts that suggest otherwise.

One Facebook post shared the image with the caption: “The RTE party, bunch of hypocrites.”

RTE Party claim Facebook post

The post has been seen 15,200 times since it was uploaded on 24 November.

On Twitter, the image was shared by a social media user on 25 November who wrote: “Rte party with cans?!?”

RTE Party claim twitter

Other users who have engaged with the posts have understood the photos to be from a recent event at RTÉ which attracted criticism after a number of staff, including several news anchors, were photographed while failing to observe social distancing.

However, this particular photo is not from the RTÉ gathering earlier this month.

The photo was actually shared online in 2011 after the retirement of Gabriel Byrne, who worked in the RTÉ Sports Library.

Photos from the retirement party were shared on this archive page in 2011 to mark the event.

The photo was originally posted to the website with the caption: “There was a large gathering of colleagues in the Sports Library to wish Gabriel Byrne well. Gabriel is retiring after 38 years service to RTÉ.”

“He started in Finance and then transferred to RTÉ Relays. Gabriel then transferred back and has been in RTÉ Sports Library. We wish Gabriel well in his retirement. CB [Charles Byrne].”

Superann RTE photo

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for RTÉ confirmed that the photo in the post was not from any event in 2020.

As such, this particular photo is not from the RTÉ event that took place earlier this month.

However, there are other photos that came from the recent RTÉ event that do appear to show a lack of social distancing.  

News presenters including Bryan Dobson, David McCullagh and Miriam O’Callaghan issued apologies after they were photographed without masks at a social gathering in Montrose.

The gathering took place to mark the retirement of an RTÉ staff member.

RTE social McCullagh (L) and O'Callaghan (R) with the retiring employee. Source: RTÉ

RTE photo 2 Source: RTÉ

Gardaí have met with senior RTÉ officials as part of inquiries into the event, which are focused on whether the gathering breached restrictions that prohibit the organisation of indoor events that involve multiple households.

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RTÉ has said that the event was a “short impromptu gathering” and that “social distancing was observed overall”.

Managing director of RTÉ News Jon Williams, who was also photographed at the event, has apologised for failing to observe social distancing guidelines.

“I apologise unreservedly and I am sorry that I failed to do the right thing on this occasion,” Williams said.

RTÉ may be required to answer questions before an Oireachtas Committee about the event, which the broadcaster has said it is prepared to do.

The Verdict

RTÉ did hold a social gathering this month where social distancing was not observed.

However, the particular photo being shared on social media at the moment does not show that event.

The image is from a retirement party for a staff member in 2011.

As a result, we rate the claim that this photo is from the recent RTÉ gathering: FALSE.

As per our verdict guide, this means: The claim is inaccurate.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here. 

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