RTÉ: Oireachtas committee to seek report on retirement gathering

Staff at broadcaster apologised after holding event without full social distancing

RTE news journalists David McCullagh and Eileen Dunne apologised live on air from the 6 and 9pm new bulletins on the channel for breaching public health guidelines at a recent gathering on the RTE campus in Donnybrook. Video: RTE News

 

RTÉ will be asked to submit a report to an Oireachtas committee on a controversial retirement gathering at the Donnybrook campus.

Members of the Oireachtas Media Committee met in private today to consider whether to invite senior members of RTÉ before a hearing in relation to the gathering.

There was a consensus that the committee would first request a report into what happened at the event and how it was organised. The report will also seek assurances about how Covid-19 breaches in future will be addressed at the broadcaster.

Committee members say that if the report adequately addresses the committee’s concerns, it may “draw a line” under the issue and not request the management to appear at a later date.

Broadcasters including Bryan Dobson, Miriam O’Callaghan, Eileen Dunne and David McCullagh have apologised for not practising social distancing for the full duration of the gathering after they were photographed standing next to a staff member ahead of their retirement.

The photographs were posted on a website for retired RTÉ staff and then highlighted in the media, prompting controversy about the gathering.

RTÉ’s managing director of news and current affairs Jon Williams said he was “very sorry” and there was a “momentary lapse of judgment” when photos were taken at the gathering, which largely adhered to social distancing and other Covid-19 protocols.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) criticised the gathering, saying it should not have taken place, while Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was “disappointing” and “not helpful” that a number of prominent RTÉ presenters were seen not observing social-distancing guidelines.