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Pat Rabbitte: Heads should not roll at RTÉ... yet

The communications minister said an inquiry into the Fr Kevin Reynolds broadcast would establish the full facts of the case.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A STATUTORY INQUIRY into the RTÉ Prime Time programme about Fr Kevin Reynolds must establish why the show was originally broadcast, according to the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte.

However, Rabbitte said no staff should lose their jobs until the Broadcasting Authority probe had completed its work. He said the inquiry – the first of its kind to be ordered under Section 53 of the Broadcasting Act – would protect the rights of Fr Reynolds as an Irish citizen.

“They [the BAI] need to determine how and why such a programme was published,” the Minister said.

It’s important that the stature of RTÉ is protected, and that the rights of Kevin Reynolds are vindicated. He is a citizen of this country and the fact that he happens to be a Catholic priest does not give RTÉ or anyone else a right to traduce his reputation.

Fr Kevin Reynolds was libelled in a Prime Time Investigates programme in May 2011. RTÉ announced last night that Prime Time Investigates would be suspended until all of its sources had been fully examined.

Rabbitte also suggested that RTÉ may not have appreciated the seriousness of the situation until after the libellous programme was broadcast.

“I suspect that RTÉ had got it in the aftermath of what transpired,” Rabbitte told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “The questions surround why was the programme was published in the first instance, given what we have learned so far. But my impression is that the management understand the gravity of it since.”

Read more: Government announces inquiry into RTE programme on Kevin Reynolds>

Read more: RTÉ suspends next season of Prime Time Investigates after Fr Reynolds case>

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Michael Freeman

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