Rabbitte stands by RTÉ despite criticisms
MINISTER FOR Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted the RTÉ board retains his full support in implementing changes to editorial procedures, despite further calls for resignations over the Fr Kevin Reynolds affair.
Three members of the Oireachtas communications committee yesterday called on RTÉ chairman Tom Savage to resign over his handling of the fallout from the Prime Time Investigates programme that libelled Fr Reynolds.
Two members also called on chief executive Noel Curran to step down after he revealed to the committee that he didn’t inform Mr Savage or the board about Fr Reynolds’s legal case for four months after the programme was broadcast in May 2011.
Board members learned of the case only in September, after the results of a paternity test showed that Fr Reynolds had not fathered a child in Kenya, as the programme had alleged.
Fine Gael TD Tom Barry said in addition to Mr Savage and Mr Curran, the entire RTÉ board should consider their positions.
Last night a spokesman for Mr Rabbitte said his position with respect to RTÉ had not changed. However, he said the Minister would consider any matters the committee wished to draw to his attention. The committee meets again tomorrow to review its two hearings into the controversy.
Along with Mr Barry, Independent TD Mattie McGrath and Labour Senator John Whelan called on Mr Savage to resign, while Mr McGrath suggested Mr Curran should also go.
The two RTÉ bosses faced heated, at times hostile, questioning for almost four hours in Leinster House yesterday. Mr Whelan accused Mr Savage of a “glaring” conflict of interest through his role as founder, along with his wife Terry Prone, of public relations firm the Communications Clinic.
Mr Savage denied any conflict of interest between his two roles and said he had acted ethically at all times, with no involvement in the day-to-day operations of the broadcaster.
RTÉ’s defamation costs average up to €1 million a year, the committee also heard, and the station still has 11 outstanding legal cases relating to programmes in the now defunct Prime Time Investigates series.