Watchdog set to publish ‘Mission to Prey’ report within days

A report by the broadcasting watchdog into how an RTÉ programme defamed a Galway priest, Fr Kevin Reynolds, is expected to be published shortly.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland met yesterday to consider the recommendations of its compliance committee on an inquiry into the Prime Time Investigates programme ‘Mission to Prey’.

The committee previously examined a report on an inquiry into the making of the documentary conducted by investigating officer Anna Carragher.

In a brief statement, the BAI said it had made a decision on the recommendation and in accordance with the Broadcasting Act 2009 would proceed to notify RTÉ of its decision.

The BAI said it would provide RTÉ with a copy of Ms Carragher’s report.

A BAI spokesperson said it would not comment further as the legislative process remained ongoing.

However, informed sources said it was likely that the report would be published within the next few days. While RTÉ has 14 days to formally reply to the findings, it is widely believed that the station will accept the recommendation without any further challenge.

Two RTÉ executives — Ed Mulhall, managing director of news, and Ken O’Shea, current affairs editor — stepped aside pending the outcome of the BAI inquiry. Prime Time Investigates reporter Aoife Kavanagh and producer Brian Pairceir were also restricted from on-air programming pending the conclusion of the investigation.

The programme wrongly claimed that Fr Reynolds, parish priest of Ahascragh, Co Galway, had raped an underage girl and fathered a child by her while working as a missionary in Africa.

An RTÉ spokesperson said it had no comment on the matter until it received a copy of the BAI report and recommendations.

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