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Government announces inquiry into RTE programme on Kevin Reynolds

Pat Rabbitte announced that the independent inquiry will determine the ‘true facts and circumstances’ which led to the Prime Time programme on Fr Reynolds being broadcast earlier this year.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Communications Pat Rabbitte has announced an independent inquiry into how RTE broadcast a programme which contained libellous allegations about a priest.

The Cabinet today agreed that an inquiry should be held to “determine the true facts and circumstances” which led to the broadcast of the Prime Time programme on Father Kevin Reynolds on RTE in May of this year.

The programme accused Reynolds of raping a teenage girl and fathering a child with her while he served as a missionary in Kenya in the 1980s.

Reynolds brought a defamation case against the national broadcaster, leading to RTE last week acknowledging that the allegations were “wholly untrue”. The broadcaster made a settlement with the priest in the High Court.

Making the announcement of the inquiry, Minister Rabbitte noted that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is the independent regulator of compliance of broadcast content. The BAI’s Compliance Committee is tasked with monitoring and enforcing compliance by broadcasters with various aspects of the relevant legislation relating to fairness, impartiality and enforcement of standards.

The Minister has requested the Compliance Committee to investigate whether RTE has “met its statutory responsibilities around objectivity, impartiality and fairness”, according to a statement. He has requested the Committee to report back and make recommendations to the BAI.

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The Government has also requested that the inquiry be concluded within two months.

Read more: RTE says it cannot disclose Fr Reynolds settlement details

Read more: Catholic priests group accuses RTE of insincerity over Fr Reynolds apology

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Christine Bohan

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