Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications Éamon Ó Cuív TD has called on RTÉ to publish confirmation of how much it has paid to settle the Fr Kevin Reynolds libel case. He has also called on the state broadcaster to share the legal advice it received in advance of deciding to air the hugely damaging programme.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “Firstly, the Board of RTÉ needs to show leadership on the issue and confirm the cost of the settlement to Fr Reynolds. 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.
“Secondly, it has now emerged that the programme makers sought and received legal advice in advance of the programme going to air. The RTÉ Board should order the immediate publication of this advice. 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.
“RTÉ has a long and distinguished history of public service broadcasting. It is in a position to do so because of the direct contribution of almost every family in the state through the TV licence. It is vitally important therefore that the bond of trust that has built up between the public and RTÉ be protected and maintained at all costs.
“The treatment of Fr Kevin Reynolds by the Prime Time programme and RTÉ threatens that bond of trust. Speedy and resolute action from the highest levels of the organisation is needed to stop this crisis escalating further.”