Managing editor of RTÉ Current Affairs David Nally, top, defends the level of RTÉ’s coverage of the Lowry Tape story in a letter to the editor in today’s Sunday Times, below. In his letter, among other things, Mr Nally points to a Six One News report on Friday, March 15, above.
Elaine Byrne and Gene Kerrigan originally broke the story on February 24 in the Sunday Independent. Their story indicated that Mr Lowry had paid £248,624 to Kevin Phelan in August 2002. The Moriarty Tribunal had only heard about a £65,000 payment made by Mr Lowry to Mr Phelan in April 2002.
In today’s letter, Mr Nally contends that the Lowry Tape “does not advance the story significantly beyond the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal”.
Separately, but also in the Sunday Times, Justine McCarthy reports that RTÉ executives were told that tapes existed last October.
Ms McCarthy writes:
“RTÉ was contacted last year by a newspaper reporter who said Phelan had told him about tapes that raised questions about Lowry’s finances. The RTÉ executives said they would be interested in running the story in the journalist could acquire the takes, but he was unable to deliver them.”
“Last January Elaine Byrne, a Sunday Independent journalist, played the tape to editorial executives and the station’s lawyers. Byrne said she had a commitment to reveal the tape’s existence in the newspaper but was keen RTÉ would broadcast it after.”
“The Sunday Independent published a transcript of the tape on February 24. Plans by RTÉ to cover the story were shelved because of ‘legal difficulties’. Byrne again offered the tape to RTE after publication of the transcript. Prime Time, the current affairs programme, declined the offer.”
Meanwhile, this is what Elaine Byrne has to say on the matter (read from the bottom):
(Top pic: IFTN)
Mr Nally, and others, respond on Twitter: