Belfast Telegraph

Reporter quits over priest probe

RTE presenter Aoife Kavanagh has quit the state broadcaster over the damning report into the defamatory Mission to Prey programme.

The Prime Time Investigates reporter also apologised to victims of abuse and to Fr Kevin Reynolds for the hurt caused when he was wrongly portrayed of raping a minor and fathering a child while working as a missionary in Kenya.

Ms Kavanagh - whose investigation was severely criticised in the probe - said while she acknowledged mistakes were made, she believed she had acted objectively and in good faith.

"In this regard I do not accept many of the findings of the investigating officer in relation to the manner in which I carried out my work," she said.

Investigator Anna Carragher, a former BBC controller in Northern Ireland, said that given the serious nature of the allegations against Fr Reynolds, she expected the reporter to have been more rigorous in exploring the credibility, motivation and trustworthiness of the one source the case relied on.

Ms Carragher, who was appointed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), also found no one else was questioned about the allegation and that it appeared second hand repetition of gossip was treated as corroboration.

"In these circumstances, and given the seriousness of the allegation, good journalist practice would be that a more detailed and objective examination of the claim and it's provenance took place," she said. "I am concerned that neither Ms Kavanagh's producer nor her editor interrogated this aspect more closely."

Ms Kavanagh's resignation is the third at the station over the defamatory programme, which was aired last March.

RTE head of news Ed Mulhall retired while Mark Lappin, producer, left to work for CNN in London.

Current affairs editor, Ken O'Shea, was moved to a new role at RTE Two and Prime Time executive producer Brian Pairceir remains off air.

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