Tag Archives: RTE

Letter in Belfast Telegraph threes week ago

This morning.

Following an interview on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke…

The Irish News reports:

Mary McAleese says her youngest brother was “seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finegan” at St Colman’s College in Newry.

The paedophile cleric has been accused of a catalogue of sexual and physical abuse against boys on church premises and at the school. He was never questioned by police or prosecuted and he died in 2002.

Fr Finegan worked in St Colman’s from 1967 and was president of the college from 1976 to 1987.

Speaking on RTÉ radio Mrs McAleese said her “baby brother”, who will celebrate his 50th birthday next year, had been abused by the priest for the entire time he attended the school.

“My baby brother, the youngest of nine children, was seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finegan.

The former president said four of her five brothers went to the school “and my wonderful, beautiful, and as you can image the youngest of a family, so incredibly loved by all of us, to think that he suffered and never felt that he could tell anyone”.

My mother, almost 90 years of age, had to discover that from the Belfast Telegraph three weeks ago.”

In the clip above, Mrs McAleese told RTE:

“The very first complaints about Malachy Finnegan go back to the 1970s, not the 1990s at all, but go back to the 1970s which means there was a body of information that was well known to people who were in a position to do something about it but didn’t.”

Mary McAleese says youngest brother was abused by Fr Malachy Finegan (The Irish News)

McAleese calls for independent inquiry into handling of Finnegan abuse (RTE)

Pic: RTE and Brendan Hughes

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and editor of the Irish Independent Fionnan Sheahan

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

On the show’s Gathering slot – Mr O’Rourke was joined by Fionnan Sheahan, editor of the Irish Independent, Sarah Carey, a columnist with Times Ireland edition, Independent Senator Ronan Mullen and Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone.

During the slot, they discussed the Strategic Communications Unit.

Readers will recall how a series of recent articles about the unit, by Ellen Coyne, in the Times Ireland edition, has led to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying he may disband the unit.

From this morning’s exchange…

Fionnan Sheahan: “… a centralised unit to go about taking major policy initiative and actually explaining them over a concerted period of time. So if there are, if it was valid to set it up in the first place…I’m failing to see why Leo Varadkar is now backing off and saying ‘well, you know, we have to get rid of the whole thing’.”

Sean O’Rourke: “Well he’s not quite saying that. I mean he’s sort of holding it out there as a prospect that has to be looked at.”

Sheahan: “But I think he misses the point, when he attacks the Opposition for bringing this up – he’s actually missing the point about the nature of politics at the moment…”

“It is actually, there’s a valid reason why Micheal Martin and other Opposition leaders brought this up and it is about pure politics.

“The next election is not really about Fine Gael versus them, it’s about undermining Leo Varadkar. He is the one who is currently in the position where he is racing ahead of his own party in terms of his popularity ratings.

His biggest problem this week is not actually the Strategic Communications Unit, it’ll play out in the Premiere Hall in Thurles tomorrow night when Fine Gael are trying to pick a candidate for the next general election. There are seven candidates in the field, none of whom are regarded as a frontrunner, none of whom actually, people on the ground are saying, are going to win a seat regardless and they probably won’t be the primary candidate.

“I think that’s Leo’s problem. He has, he’s found himself in a position where his big issue is going to be getting candidates who can actually -…”

O’Rourke: “Ok, look, to come to you Sarah Carey, Brian Murphy, the Taoiseach’s most senior advisor – and this emerged in an email that Hugh O’Connell had in the [Sunday] Business Post last Sunday – he says the costs could be enormous and can easily be spun, however inaccurately as a vanity project. So they knew what they were letting themselves in for here.

Sarah Carey: “Yeah, they did and it’s the job of political advisors to see around corners and to see how something that you might want to do could be criticised. Now I agree with Fionnan, in terms of the need for a strategic communications unit to roll out Government policies, exactly like that auto-enrolment.

“And indeed yesterday, I was at a seminar at the ESRI about behavioural economics and healthcare and how the HSE is trying to do the same thing with changing how they communicate with people and with their users and strategic communications is actually vital to that.

“Of course the suspicion here is and was borne out somewhat by the way these Ireland 2040 ads were placed in newspapers in a commercial basis but were requested not to be treated as commercial but to look more like editorial that therefore this unit is actually just being used to promote Fine Gael and so they absolutely need to be way more careful about that – that it really is seen as Governmental projects and not Fine Gael promotion.”


It should also be noted that last week, Ms Coyne, speaking about when the story broke, told RTE:

“…the initial reaction from Leo Varadkar was to claim that my story and similar reporting by Justine McCarthy in The Sunday Times was inaccurate.

“That led to a very heated exchange in the Dail during Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday and up to the unbelievable moment on Wednesday when Leo Varadkar went into the Dail and said on the public record that, actually, my story had been filled with anonymous sources who were secretly Fianna Fail candidates which is completely untrue.”

In addition…

Readers may recall how Ms Coyne, in the Times Ireland edition on February 27, reported:

“A drive to cut hospital admissions during the winter flu crisis was among the publicly funded campaigns that local papers were instructed to present as a news story, The Times can reveal.

The HSE was given final approval over journalists’ copy during the initiative, run by Mediaforce, the same agency used by the government for Ireland 2040 and Creative Ireland campaigns.

“To create advertorial content, local newspaper journalists were sent to interview staff at a number of HSE injury units. The interview was arranged by the media agency. It is understood that in at least one case, the journalists had been working in-house while others were freelancers.

Mediaforce told journalists that the advertisements should be laid out like a normal news page. Yesterday, The Times revealed that the same firm told editorial staff that advertorials had to look like normal news stories. Correspondence seen by The Times shows that after journalists wrote the interview it was laid out on the page, often labelled as a “special feature,” and the HSE was allowed to request amendments.”

HSE campaign to cut hospital admissions during winter flu crisis pushed as genuine news (Ellen Coyne, The Times Ireland edition)

Previously: “They’re Loud And They’re Growing”

From top: George Gibney, RTÉ Montrose; a tweet yesterday from Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson was one of the first journalists to write about former Irish swimming coach George Gibney in the 1990s.

Mr Watterson has written a 3,000-word article on Gibney for tomorrow’s Irish Times.

RTÉ has reportedly declined an ad from the newspaper promoting the piece because it used the word ‘paedophile’.

Gibney was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in April, 1993.

He sought and won a controversial  High Court judicial review in 1994 which quashed all the charges against him.

After this, Gibney left Ireland for Edinburgh, Scotland and then the US.

Gibney was granted a visa during a visit to the United States in 1992 – seemingly aided by a Garda character reference – a year after people who had been abused by him started to speak up and organise themselves.

In February 1998 the then Sports Minister Jim McDaid appointed Dr Roderick Murphy, SC, to investigate child sex abuse in swimming.

The inquiry was ordered to examine how complaints about Gibney and fellow coach Derry  O’Rourke were handled.

In the end 70 witnesses, including 20 victims, 12 parents, seven coaches, and a number of officials from the IASA and individual swimming clubs took part in the inquiry.

And, while neither coach was named in either the terms of reference or the eventual report, the conclusion was certain.

From the report, Dr Murphy stated:

“In light of the charges arising out of the Garda investigation the complainants were vindicated.”

Previously: ‘Time To Bring The Gibney Nightmare To A Close’

Who Is Protecting George Gibney?


On Wednesday…

US journalist Irvin Muchnick reported:

The president of the board of directors of the American Swimming Coaches Association, Don Heidary, yesterday told this reporter he had never heard of George Gibney and that the controversy surrounding him preceded Heidary’s involvement with ASCA.

At the same time, Heidary did not utilize the opportunity to issue even a ritualized denial of the possibility that ASCA might have helped set up Gibney for employment in America as he was facing allegations of sexual abuse, which would culminate in a 27-count criminal indictment in Ireland.

My email exchange with Heidary follows an essay he wrote for the website SwimVortex under the headline “The Real Culture of American Swimming.”

It began: “Over the past forty years, I have coached in the summer-leagues, at the high school level, and as a proud member of USA Swimming. What I have seen, and have been blessed to be a part of, is a culture that is anything but predatory, abusive, and certainly not profit-driven.”

I noted to Heidary that I believe his own club, Orinda Aquatics in California, was where one of my daughter’s teammates at nearby Bear Swimming migrated in 2008 after the teammate, at 16, was twice raped by Bear head coach Jesse Stovall, who was chaperoning her on a trip to Florida for a national meet.

In 2010 Stovall pleaded down criminal charges so as to avoid prison, and was added to USA Swimming’s banned list.

I wrote Heidary: “Since you are president of the ASCA board, I ask for your assistance in the mystery of who wrote and who brokered the letter offering George Gibney a coaching job in the United States in the early 1990s while he was facing dozens of criminal charges of child sex abuse in Ireland.

“In his opinion, in my recently settled Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Charles R. Breyer took pains to point out that I am someone who ‘suspects that the American Swimming Coaches Association greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation.’” (And I pointed Heidary to the almost fully redacted copy of Gibney’s job offer letter, which submitted at the time of his 1992 American visa application, here)

Heidary replied:

“I’m sorry I can’t help with this. Your email is the first I have ever heard that name and I have never heard anything related to this issue. In the early nineties I was coaching a summer-league and high school team in Orinda and not affiliated or involved with USA Swimming or the American Swimming Coaches Association.”

In a follow-up, I said that Heidary was not answering the question I was posing. The question, I persisted, does not concern his personal resume or even his level of knowledge of Gibney — the most notorious at-large sex criminal in global sports history — but rather the historical involvement of ASCA, the organization Heidary leads.

As Concussion Inc.’s coverage through the years has pointed out, ASCA executive director John Leonard told us: “We do not have an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form, according to our formative documents from 1958 and thereafter.”

Helping coaches obtain visas is a central part of ASCA’s business model.

Heidary did not respond to the follow-up. This article is being forwarded to the entire ASCA board for further comment.

American Swimming Coaches Association President Doesn’t Deny Possibility of ASCA Involvement in the Coaching Offer to George Gibney That Coincided With His Successful 1992 U.S. Visa Application (Concussion.net)

Nicely executed, in fairness.

Any excuse.

From top: Claire Byrne arriving at the Four Courts on Friday; Nicky Kehoe leaving the courts on Friday.

This afternoon.

RTÉ reports:

A former Sinn Féin councillor and IRA gunman has been awarded €3,500 in his High Court case for damages against RTÉ for defamation.

Nicky Kehoe, who is now a political manager for Sinn Féin, had sued over comments made about him during a live radio debate in October 2015.

The jury found the contents of the broadcast meant that Mr Kehoe was not a fit person to be involved in the democratic process.

However, it found the broadcaster was only 35% responsible for the defamation and Joe Costello was responsible for 65%.

RTÉ lawyers say they plan to appeal the case and said it is possibly the lowest award of damages ever made in a defamation case.

Kehoe awarded €3,500 in defamation case against RTÉ (Vivienne Traynor, RTE)

Michael Lyster joined RTÉ in 1979 and has presented The Sunday Game since 1984.


RTÉ today confirmed, that Michael Lyster will continue to present RTÉ’s Allianz League Sunday and to anchor The Sunday Game Live until the end of the 2018 GAA Championship season when he is due to retire.

Michael said,:

“I’ll be hanging up my hat at the end of 2018. I’ve a full season of top class GAA action to get through with the National Leagues and of course the Championships this summer and that’s what I’m focused on. T

Following my health scare a few years ago, every day and every year was a bonus. That’s the mindset I’ve continued to have and I feel incredibly lucky to have another season to look forward to at the helm”.

Micheal Lyster will speak to Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio 1’s The Ray D’Arcy Show this afternoon.

Pic; RTÉ



In the apology RTÉ acknowledged that it made mistakes and failed to comply with its statutory duty under the Broadcasting Act during the programme broadcast on 24 October 2011.

It acknowledged that it should have verified the origin of the tweet [go to 5 min 15 seconds above], and the tweet should not have been erroneously attributed to another candidate’s Twitter account.

RTÉ also acknowledged that it should not have broadcast the tweet and when it became apparent that it was false, it should have immediately corrected the fact that the provenance of the tweet was mistaken.

….[Paul] Tweed [Sean Gallagher’s solicitorsaid RTÉ’s apology had been supported by the payment of “substantial damages” although he said the terms of the settlement were confidential.

G’wan the licence fee!

RTÉ apologises and pays Gallagher settlement over tweet (RTÉ)




On RTE One, at 9.30pm.

Following a six-month undercover investigation, RTE Investigates: Nightmare will expose dangerously overcrowded accommodation in the private rental sector.

The programme makers found one building contained more than 60 tenants, while another had more than 40 tenants.

Three buildings, in Crumlin, Kilmainham and Rathmines, have since been closed.

Further to this…

RTE reports:

A company providing services to foreign students has withdrawn High Court proceedings aimed at stopping portions of an RTÉ programme to be aired tonight.

The programme, which investigates standards in the private rental sector, is to be shown on Prime Time.

Lawyers for Green Effect Technology, trading as Global Academics, told the court this morning that they were not proceeding with their application.

The matter was struck out by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan.

Attempt to stop RTÉ broadcast on accommodation withdrawn (RTE)

Pic: RTE

Keelin Shanley and Caitriona Perry


RTÉ News today announced that Keelin Shanley and Caitriona Perry will be the new presenters of the RTÉ Six One News from January 2018.

Broadcaster Keelin Shanley who currently presents News at One on RTÉ Radio 1 and Crimecall on RTÉ One, will be joined by RTÉ’s current Washington Correspondent Caitriona Perry, as co-presenters on the flagship programme.

The current presentation team of Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ní Bheolain are moving to new presenting roles within the RTÉ newsroom. Sharon Ní Bheolain will present the Nine O’Clock News on rotation with Eileen Dunne, and remain as a presenter of Leaders Questions. She will also be the new presenter of Crimecall on RTÉ One. Bryan Dobson joins the Morning Ireland team on-air from 1 November.


Pic; RTÉ




That’s better.