Rabbitte to discuss report with RTÉ board


MINISTER FOR Communications Pat Rabbitte will meet the board of RTÉ this morning to discuss the implications of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s report into the libelling of Fr Kevin Reynolds.

The report was highly critical of the Prime Time Investigates programme A Mission to Prey and it led to the levying of a €200,000 fine on RTÉ.

Mr Rabbitte summoned the 12-member board to meet him at 8am today in response to the publication of the report. “I intend to leave the board and the chairman under no misapprehension about the huge challenge that now confronts them in terms of restoring the trust that was the link with the Irish people,” Mr Rabbitte said last Friday.

“My confidence has been shaken, I have to say, but I have to hear what they have to say, because it’s fair to say they scarcely feature at all in the report,” he said. The Minister added that the Mission to Prey programme had been exposed as a “shoddy, unprofessional, cavalier, damaging piece of work” and as a result RTÉ faced a fundamental challenge to restore its reputation.

Mr Rabbitte said it was “beyond belief” that a programme that had won such a high reputation for its investigative journalism should put together a piece of work based on “no more than uncorroborated gossip”.

He added that he would not “prejudge the situation” before meeting the board, which is chaired by PR consultant Tom Savage.

“I want an opportunity to study that report over the weekend and to discuss that report and its contents with the board, because ultimately the board is charged with the governance of RTÉ and the governance as well failed on this occasion,” he said.

The other board members are Patricia Quinn, chief executive of Irish Nonprofits Knowledge Exchange; Karlin Lillington, technology correspondent of The Irish Times; Alan Gilsenan, filmmaker; Fergus Armstrong, former chairman of McCann Fitzgerald solicitors; Sean O’Sullivan, managing director of Seabrook Research; Orlaith Carmody, journalist and communications consultant; Aileen O’Meara, journalist; Eunice O’Raw, barrister; Stuart Switzer, managing director of Coco Television; and Joe Little, RTÉ religious and social affairs correspondent.

Mr Savage has pointed to the reforms made since the programme was transmitted. The board’s term is due to run until August 31st, 2014.