Posted: November 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

'Under the microscope': RTE and its treatment of the Church


A FRIGHTENING DOUBLE STANDARD in RTE’s attitudes to child abuse and the Catholic Church has emerged in the last 24 hours.

Following the settlement, at the High Court, yesterday afternoon, of the Fr Kevin Reynolds defamation case, Kevin Dawson, Head of Corporate Communications at RTE, decided to go on the Station’s Drivetime programme to be interviewed by Mary Wilson, at 5:40pm.

When asked, would heads now roll, over the Fr Reynolds case, Mr Dawson said, “It’s very difficult for a rolled head, so to speak, to learn anything”.

This response is in stark contrast to the attitude adopted by RTE towards the priests and bishops which the Station helped to hound out of office.

The irony of RTE’s position, however, appears to have been lost, not only on Mr Dawson, but also on the Drivetime Presenter, who decided not to follow up with a related question.

Later, that night, as part of the terms of the Settlement, an apology was read out on air on RTE 1, immediately prior to the screening of Prime Time (it was last May’s Prime Time programme, ‘Mission to Prey’ which gave rise to yesterday’s defamation case in the High Court).

Although the wording of the apology was comprehensive, it was read out quickly and in a monotone way, as pointed out by Fr Sean McMcDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests and Fr Eamon Aylward of the Irish Missionary Union, on Friday’s Today with Pat Kenny.

Fr McDonagh also pointed out that had it been a bishop who had been required, by a court, to read out an apology, and had the bishop got someone to read the apology in a similar monotone way to the way last night’s Prime Time Apology was read, that bishop would have been subject to severe media criticism.

These incidents, in the last 24 hours alone, have revealed a worrying double standard in the way RTE holds people and organizations to account for their actions. It cannot be a matter of one rule for priests and bishops and another rule for RTE journalists and producers. More generally, it cannot be a matter of one rule for the Church and another for RTE!

The challenges now facing RTE are formidable and while it is clear the Station would wish to be able, quickly, to put the affair behind it, in reality, it will have some work to do if it is to tackle the growing impression among ordinary Catholics that when it comes to fair play for the Church, the Institution that is RTE ‘still doesn’t get it’!

The Family and Media Association is encouraging its members and other people of good will to protest this obvious double standard on the part of RTE by contacting the Station and other authorities.

See also RTE’s ‘Mission to Prey’ (on an innocent Catholic priest!)


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