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A screen grab from RTÉ's 'Profiting from Prostitution' documentary, which was intended to be aired as a Prime Time Investigates show before that series was suspended. RTÉ

RTÉ to air prostitution documentary originally meant for 'Prime Time Investigates'

An hour-long programme on prostitution will air on Tuesday night, though the ‘Prime Time Investigates’ series remains suspended.

RTÉ IS TO BROADCAST an hour-long documentary, originally intended as part of the next series of Prime Time Investigates, this week – marking the national broadcaster’s first investigative programming since the fallout from the Fr Kevin Reynolds affair.

The programme, to be aired on Tuesday evening under the Prime Time branding, is said to expose people profiting from the sex trade in Ireland, and report on the growing demand for paid sex with younger, foreign and vulnerable women.

The investigation, from reporter Paul Maguire, discovers prostitutes – often being advertised as ‘escorts’ – being available in every county, and includes an interview with a 19-year-old woman who works almost 100 hours a week in a Co Kildare room which she rarely leaves.

The show marks a return to screens, of sorts, for the Prime Time Investigates series – with the show having been originally intended to air as part of a new series from that strand, which has since been suspended.

RTÉ said the programme had been researched and partly filmed before the broadcaster had opted to shelve the Prime Time Investigates strand, pending an investigation into editorial processes in its current affairs division.

That review – carried out by the Press Ombudsman, Professor John Horgan – was completed in December and is awaiting publication.

Production of Tuesday’s programme had been undertaken by the Prime Time team and had continued under the supervision of Steve Carson, who is acting Editor of Current Affairs.

‘Serious issues of criminality’

In a statement RTÉ said it had decided to air the programme now “because of the serious issues of criminality and exploitation of vulnerable women involved in the sex industry”.

The full-time Current Affairs editor, Ken O’Shea, and the managing director of RTÉ News Ed Mulhall, stepped aside in November pending the completion of Horgan’s review and that of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which is separately investigating the broadcast of the programme about Fr Kevin Reynolds.

RTÉ had agreed to pay damages to Fr Reynolds following a broadcast in May which falsely claimed he had raped a teenage girl and fathered a child while working as a missionary in Kenya in the 1980s.

The broadcaster later admitted the story was “wholly untrue” and it was revealed that the station went ahead with the programme despite Fr Reynolds denying the allegations and legal correspondence to the same effect.

The executive producer of the Reynolds show, Brian Páircéir, and reporter Aoife Kavanagh, have not been contributing to on-air programming since the admission. The producer of the programme, Mark Lappin, had left RTÉ in the meantime and now works for CNN.

RTÉ said the BAI had been informed, as a courtesy, of the decision to broadcast Tuesday night’s documentary. The programme had been “finalised and checked in the context of the recommendations by Professor Horgan”.

Horgan’s findings are to be published following the completion of the BAI’s inquiry.

Read: BAI launches inquiry into defamatory Prime Time Investigates programme

More: RTÉ reshuffle sees Miriam’s husband heading up current affairs

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