Nobody can deny that there has been a lot of scandals……..political, financial, Church over the past two decades. Nor can anyone deny that there is an ongoing “drugs war” among the criminal classes. RTE deserves a lot of credit for exposing many scandals thru programmes like “Prime Time Investigates”.
But much of the good work has been undone by the fact that this programme subtitled “Mission To Prey” seriously libelled a Catholic priest, Father Kevin Reynolds, accusing him of raping a Kenyan teenager and fathering a child. It is hard to imagine a more serious allegation. Father Reynolds had volunteered to take a DNA test before the programme was broadcast. RTE refused the offer. Subsequent DNA tests showed that Father Reynolds is entirely innocent. He was awarded a substantial out of court settlement against RTE.
Many apologists for RTE and Journalism will thin that the matter should have ended there. In fact, Father Reynolds had been suspended from his parish and had to live elsewhere before proving his own innocence. Not so Aoife Kavanagh, the journalist who defamed Father Reynolds. It took a campaign to have Ms Kavanagh put on suspension by RTE. She is still on suspension.
In the wake of an inquiry into the incident RTE has now axed “Prime Time Investigates”. Apologists for Journalism are angered that this is an over-reaction. But the programme itself has exposed wrong doing in high places………including the Catholic Church. People have been held to account. Surely it is only right that the programme-makers including Ms Kavanagh are held to account.
Let this be clearly understood….this is not an attack on Press Freedom. It is an attack on the abuse of power by RTE journalists. Donnybrook 2012 is Wapping 2011. Rupert Murdoch had no hesitation in closing down his title “News of the World” when the brand became toxic. RTE should have no hesitation in closing down one of its titles……..when it loses public confidence and becomes toxic.
It will of course be described (by journalists) as pandering to a lynch mob and a witch hunt. It is nothing of the kind. And before journalists cry crocodile tears, they should realise that within months of being closed down, “News of the World” was re-branded and re-launched. As will “Prime Time Investigates”.
Journalists who dismissed the English phone hacking scandal as a “one off” on which they happily commented have been forced into shamed silence by the revelations in the Leveson Inquiry. This is how Journalism works…….a double standard.
RTE has been accused of having an anti-Catholic agenda? And certainly the “Mission To Prey” programme gives credence to this. But it should be noted that many of RTEs leading journalists, including Seán O’Rourke publicly criticised their employer for the intial seeming grudging apology issued to Father Reynolds and the lapse in RTE standards.
But there is an interesting little statistic from the Irish Census (2011). Apparently 84% of the population of the Republic of Ireland are “Catholic”…despite the scandals of the past two decades. A heartening figure for Catholics and one which contradicts the narrative in most media and blogger circles………..so it will not be mentioned. Some blog sites have a preference for “life and times surveys” in the Belfast Telegraph. Faced with a life and times survey and hard facts like an election ora census…………a blog site with an agenda will always prefer the Belfast Telegraph.
Nobody would ever want a situation to arise where jobs in RTE were allocated to reflect the proportions in the population. But the Census shows that 84% of the Republic’s population are Catholic. What exactly would a census at RTE show? That non-Catholics are perhaps “over-represented” at Donnybrook?
Last week, I posted about Kate Adie’s observation that she could not understand the Troubles until she was on assignment in the BBC Belfast Newsroom…..and noted how few Catholics there were.
Have things changed? The Media and the Blogosphere still seem to be living in a world which has not recognised the dominace of DUP and Sinn Féin. A bland “lets get alongerist” agenda and narrative prevails.
Take last years Assembly Election where 57% of the votes went to DUP and Sinn Féin……..would an exit poll at Ormeau Avenue or Havelock House reflect this?