Kenny calls for cross-party body to monitor RTÉ

Taoiseach Enda Kenny wants a cross-party Oireachtas committee established to monitor RTÉ.

Mr Kenny said it would be in the public interest to establish such a body in the wake of RTÉ’s defamation of Fr Kevin Reynolds.

Its task would be to “hold hearings and conduct a thorough and comprehensive discussion about public service broadcasting”.

Mr Kenny is going to recommend the creation of a sub-committee of the existing Oireachtas committee on communications for the purpose. The sub-committee would be chaired by a TD.

Mr Kenny has rejected a proposal for the establishment of a dedicated Oireachtas commission with an independent chair to deal with wider media issues.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said in addition to the RTÉ controversy, the issue of media ownership also had to be dealt with.

“The Leveson Inquiry in the UK has been particularly revealing in that context,” he said. “Can Ireland be sure that some of the practices and activities that took place in other jurisdictions did not and could not occur here?”

Mr Martin said a commission could dedicate itself to these issues, accept sub-missions from the public and interested parties, and make recommendations to the Government.

In contrast, he said, the committee on communications already had too much on its agenda to deal with the issues involved.

However, Mr Kenny indicated his belief that a sub-committee would be sufficient. It was not immediately clear if he felt that the sub-committee should confine itself to public service broadcasting or examine wider issues such as ownership.

“There is no reason that a sub-committee of that committee cannot deal with these issues,” Mr Kenny said. “I do not see why that cannot happen. This is in the interest of all our people and I will make that recommendation known to the chairman of the committee.

“It will be important for the committee itself to consider how best it might deal with this matter.”

RTÉ and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland are due in before the committee on communications next Wednesday.

Chairman and Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle said the committee would want to see how RTÉ plans to implement the reforms recommended in separate reports on the defamation case.

“The national broadcaster has to rebuild its reputation and trust,” he said. “There’s something broken that needs to be fixed.”


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