Inquiry into RTÉ should focus on 'institutional bias against clergy'


SEANAD REPORT:IT WAS important that the Government-ordered inquiry into the RTÉ programme that defamed Fr Kevin Reynolds had terms of reference sufficiently wide to facilitate an attempt at understanding “the psychology behind the appalling defamation and the appalling failure in the duty of care” to Fr Reynolds, Rónán Mullen (Ind) said.

“I have raised the issue about whether there could be some kind of institutional bias against clergy in particular arising out of scandals and so on.”

The media played an enormous role in shaping public understanding of issues, Mr Mullen added.

If there were any question that any sector of our society was seen to be pariahs or not entitled to the same level of due care as other sectors, that was something that needed to be explored.

Mr Mullen said he hoped that the compliance committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland would be in a position to ask relevant questions in a fair but searching manner.

Michael Mullins (FG) said that as the person who had called in the Seanad for a public inquiry into the libelling of Fr Reynolds, he hoped the investigation that had been set in train would also encompass the complaint that had been made to RTÉ by the family of a deceased missionary about the way he had been treated.

All aspects of the programme must be investigated thoroughly to ensure no person, living or dead, had been treated wrongly by RTÉ.

John Crown (Ind) said it was important that a priority aim of those in parliament would be to ensure that, with rare exceptions, “gagging orders” could not be applied when the State made any kind of settlement with anyone who had been injured by it.

“I have seen this time after time in the health service where gagging orders are applied, a quiet payment is made and the people in authority, the people who have made the error, get away with it.”