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Pat Kenny show rapped by BAI over Bertie Ahern discussion

The Authority said a panel discussion of a book on the former Taoiseach’s finances had been “unfair”.

Pat Kenny
Pat Kenny
Image: James Horan/Photocall Ireland

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland has upheld a complaint against RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny over  a discussion of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Broadcast on October 27 2011, the show was found to be “unfair” in its coverage of a book about the ex-Fianna Fáil leader’s finances by Irish Times journalist Colm Keena.

The book called Bertie: Power and Money was discussed in a half-hour segment by a panel including Keena, Fianna Fáil activist Joe Tierney and Ahern’s party colleague Royston Brady.

But the complainant argued that the discussion was “one-sided, should have contained a balancing voice and demonstrated a lack of fairness, objectivity and impartiality”, the BAI said.

Upholding the complaint, the Authority acknowledged that Ahern’s finances were “legitimate subject matter” for a current affairs programme. However, it stated:

Given the allegations made during the programme as well as the personal remarks about the motivations and honesty of Mr Ahern, the absence during the programme of a right of reply or alternative perspectives on Mr Ahern was considered unfair.

RTÉ today broadcast the BAI’s decision at the start of the Today with Pat Kenny show.

During the discussion Tierney criticised Ahern, saying he did everything “with a motive for himself”. He added: “Fianna Fáil owes nothing to Bertie Ahern but Bertie Ahern owes everything to Fianna Fáil.”

The BAI decision comes after Ahern was found to have given untruthful evidence about his personal finances in the final report of the Mahon Tribunal.

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Michael Freeman

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