Ahascragh Priest 'Trying to Get on with Life'

By Marie Madden
Galway Advertiser
May 9, 2012

The standards of journalism displayed in the making of RTE's 'Mission to Prey' documentary were "shambolic".

That's according to solicitor Robert Dore, who made the statement to the Galway Independent on behalf of Ahascragh priest Fr Kevin Reynolds.

The 'Prime Time Investigates' programme had levelled libellous and untrue allegations against Fr Reynolds, namely that he had raped a minor and fathered her child during his time as a missionary in Kenya 30 years ago.

In the wake of the publication of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's report on the programme on Friday, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte held a crunch meeting with RTE executives yesterday morning, after which he confirmed that resignations would not be sought from members of the board.

Speaking following the meeting, the Minister said that the board of RTE "fully understands" the gravity of the false allegations against Fr Reynolds and the shortcomings of the station's investigation and made "no excuses". He added that there was a "determination" within the State broadcaster that this "would never happen again".

Responding to Minister Rabbitte's comments yesterday, Mr Dore told the Galway Independent that Minister Rabbitte was "a very astute man" and his views should be "highly respected".

"If, on the basis of all the information that he had and the undertakings given in the meeting yesterday, his faith in RTE has been restored, then I wouldn't second guess him in any way. It's not for me to second-guess his judgement."

The damning report into the 'Mission to Prey' programme by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and pinpointed a "significant failure of editorial and managerial controls", which failed to "recognise the grave injustice which could be done to Fr Reynolds".

The report found that RTE's conduct in carrying out the investigation was in breach of three subsections of the Broadcasting Act 2009, including one outlining that broadcast treatment of current affairs must be "fair to all interests concerned" and "presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of his or her own views".

It also heavily criticised the lack of thorough investigation and verification into the claims made to RTE producer Aoife Kavanagh, who resigned in the wake of the report, by a contact while on a research trip to Kenya in early 2011. This had sparked the inclusion of Fr Reynolds in the programme.

Mr Dore said that while he felt sorry for Ms Kavanagh "on a human level", she and the RTE team seemed to have "convinced themselves of the reliability of the unnamed source".

"I nearly get the impression that they wanted to be convinced of this. To take the line that an offer of a paternity test was not genuine and was really an attempt to derail the programme, that's irrational! There was another line that 'we will have to take a leap of faith on this' and they did, but unfortunately they weren't right in doing that."

Fr Reynolds has since returned to his parish in Ahascragh and Mr Dore said he is "doing his level best to get on with his life again".

"Now that the publication is out there, hopefully this is the end of it for him. Genuinely what I hope is that this is the end of it hitting the headlines and he can get on and minister to his parishioners in Ahascragh, which is what he wants to do.

"I don't know what goes through his head at night, lying in the bed looking at the wall, but certainly, he must be the most 'apologised to' man in the planet! At every turn, he has been exonerated so I think this matter in his mind is at an end and all he wants to do is get on with his life."


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