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RTÉ says it cannot disclose Fr Reynolds settlement details

Fianna Fáil has called on the broadcaster to release details of the settlement but RTÉ says it is bound by a confidentiality agreement requested by the priest’s lawyers.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

RTÉ IS BEING called upon to disclose the full details of the settlement it made with Fr Kevin Reynolds after it made false allegations against him in a Prime Time Investigates programme last May.

But the broadcaster said it was bound by a confidentiality agreement at the request of the Catholic priest’s legal representatives.

Fianna Fáil’s communications spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív has asked the state broadcaster to disclose details of the settlement as well share the legal advice it received in advance of airing the programme in which the false allegations about Fr Reynolds were made.

RTÉ has apologised to Fr Reynolds for falsely reporting that he had raped a teenage girl and fathered a child with her while working as a missionary in Kenya in the 1980s. The claims were “wholly untrue” the broadcaster acknowledged last week as an internal review was set up.

Ó Cuív said that the Board of RTÉ needs to show leadership on the issue and confirm the cost of the settlement:

Estimates of the settlement have ranged from €0.75m – €5m.  Given that this cost is borne directly by licence fee payers and comes directly from the same budget used to fund the station’s core output, the people deserve to know how much this debacle has cost.

He also stated that the RTÉ Board should order the immediate publication of the legal advice it received before the programme aired.

If the lawyers gave bad advice which led to a multimillion euro liability for licence fee payers, the Board should consider what options are available to recoup monies.  If however the lawyers gave correct advice and the programme makers proceeded to air the programme regardless, there are other, potentially even more serious issues about Corporate Governance at RTÉ and the culpability of individual programme makers within the organisation that need to be addressed.

In October, RTÉ issued a public apology to Fr Reynolds, saying that the material concerning him ought never to have been broadcast.

Following a High Court hearing, the broadcaster paid the priest an undisclosed sum, which is speculated to have been in the region of seven figures.

But the broadcaster said in a statement it would not be disclosing the details:

RTÉ is bound by a confidentiality agreement concerning the settlement that was agreed to be paid in Fr Kevin Reynolds’ case, at the request of his legal representatives, and will not breach this agreement.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

Read: Catholic priests group accuses RTÉ of insincerity over Fr Reynolds apology>

Read: RTÉ internal review expected within weeks after ‘wholly untrue’ allegations >

Read: RTÉ apology to priest in high court “a wake-up call”>

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