A Challenge to RTE: Margaret Lee

While it is satisfying that RTE has apologized unreservedly to Fr. Kevin Reynolds, I cannot help believing that we have replaced the arrogance of the institutional church with that of the media. Yes, RTE as a corporate entity has admitted wrong doing, but no individual has accepted public responsibility for the perpetration of the injustice. I note that the two women in Africa were named in the apology but the producer, or indeed the presenter who broadcast this programme (with an appropiately sad visage and sonorous tones) have not been named. I wonder if anyone in RTE will be asked to “stand down” from programming while their ‘dangerous behaviour’ is being investigated. A Church person in a similar situation certainly would. Natural justice has a belief that what is sauce for the goose is normally served to the gander also.
The vindication of Kevin Reyolds should also pose questions for people who blithly say that “there is no smoke without fire”.
Margaret Lee is a contributor to ‘The Furrow’ and ‘Reality’ magazine, and wrote a much-acclaimed chapter in  ‘Responding to the Ryan Report’

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  1. I’m not a member of RTE.
    I am a member of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. I think we can do much better.

  2. As the red hot chilli peppers sang: THROW AWAY YOUR TELEVISION NOW!
    That way you don’t need a licence to prop up RTE.

  3. Fr Damian says:

    It shudders me to think, that RTE went ahead to broadcast the program knowing that there was a possibility that the paternity test would turn out negative. Well it did!! Surely someone in the production team said that it might be negative or else their reputation will be destroyed. Well it is destroyed. I have no more faith in Prime Time or in RTE for that matter.
    I sincerely hope the tide is turning….

  4. Margaret,
    In general I agree but I should point out that the behaviour of RTE management and of Prime Time staff is not a continuation of that of John Charles McQuaid, Bishop Cornelius Lucey or Michael Browne (“cross Michael!”). An authoritian style of leadership quite compatible with qualites such as honesty and decency. The late John Feeney once described Archbishop McQuaid as living outside his time but as a “first class bishop of the old school” who, had he lived fifty years earlier “would have no critics worth speaking of and would hardly be remembered today except by those who benefited from his quiet, personal charity” (page 78/9 of John Charles McQuaid – The Man and the Mask).
    None of this applies to RTE or indeed any of our anti-clerical journalists.

  5. The current issue of Phoenix magazine (21 Oct – 3 Nov) names the RTE staff behind the “Mission to Prey” programme – in an article entitled “RTE Fears Record Defamation Award”. The following is an extract:

    “That Aoife Kavanagh, the journalist and presenter of the programme – entitled “A Mission to Prey” – was heading up her first investigative programme for the station, may be regarded as a factor in this car crash of a programme. But other, senior producers and editorial executives were also involved at various stages along the way. These include producer Mark Lappin; executive producer Brian Pearcair; Editor of RTE Current Affairs and PT, Ken O’Shea;; and managing director news and current affairs Ed Mulhall, all of whom were involved at some level in the programme. As well RTE’s legal department would have – and did – raise legal flags about the content, warnings that were ignored. The programme was broadcast on 23 May last and Lappin has since gone on to greater things in the London base of CNN. But the others remain at their posts in Montrose.

    Normally I don’t have a great deal of time for Phoenix and its frequent sneering tone. However it is worth recording that, when the Sunday World was forced to apologise for its obscene libel against Nora Wall, Phoenix was the only publication to report the fact – on 8 November 2002. (Our “paper of record” the Irish Times ignored the apology and the award of libel damages to the former Sister of Mercy.)

  6. Rory,
    Thanks for alerting us to the article in Phoenix. It is good to see names being named. However, these people have not had to take any personal responsibility. It is a sad reflection on the print media that no other publication has aired this injustice. However, this is what institutions do–close ranks and protect their colleagues–just what they accused church people of doing.

  7. RTE have every right to pursue this kind of programme. Were it not for Dear Daughter & States of Fear in the 90s we would never have had the investigation and exposure of so many sad abuses in the church. The tone of the response amongst catholic priests in Intercom during the 90s was mostly silence. It began to look at issues surrounding sexuality, but there was also a growing hostility towards the media which is evidenced in some of these comments. Why has the church in Ireland failed so miserably to equip itself with media-savvy as it was beginning to do when the Catholic Communications Centre was founded? It would seem to me that as the initial zeal died, so too did zeal for the opportunity to read the signs of the times that Vatican II had offered. Rather than criticizing journalists who, contrary to how it would be made appear, do not have an easy job making such documentaries – especially considering the secrecy and paranoia church groups routinely greet media-inquiries with – we might try, as a church, to become engaged with RTE, with the press, unafraid to defend our beliefs but not always in a defensive spirit. Sorry about the long sentence.

  8. It was wrong of RTE to broadcast “Mission to Prey”. A man’s good name was taken away. RTE had been informed that the allegation that it was about to broadcast was not true. The man in question offered to have a paternity test. RTE went ahead and, in my opinion, this was arrogant and an abuse of power. RTE subsequently (well 4 months later actually) stated that the programme should never have been aired. This abuse of power received very little coverage in the print media. Yes, RTE have a right to make documentaties but not at the expense of the truth. The fact that I make these comments does not mean that I approve of the current leadership of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

  9. I first of all hope that Fr. Reynolds recovers from this vicious assault and I wish him well in his future as a priest as well as a private person..
    This raises many questions about the treatment of Catholics in this country.. If he was a minister from another faith or organisation I doubt that the mob would have went after him with such force..
    Deeply shocked that you can do that and then just move on without some sort of sanction…
    I’m surprised Matthew (poster above) That you think ‘RTE have every right to pursue this kind of programme’ So its ok to launch a vile attack on a man because he is a priest even if the story is a complete fabrication? Shocked by this comment but not surprised considering the levels of Catholic hate that exist in this state at present but shame on you…

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