Dáil questions over RTÉ €85,000 payout

Thursday 06 February 2014 21.45
Deputies requested answers from Pat Rabbitte in the Dáil over the RTÉ payout
Deputies requested answers from Pat Rabbitte in the Dáil over the RTÉ payout

Questions have been raised in the Dáil in relation to RTÉ's payment of €85,000 after legal proceedings arising from an interview broadcast with LGBT activist Rory O'Neill on The Saturday Night Show were initiated.

Labour TD John Lyons said RTÉ's legal position was unclear.

He asked who was in charge of the matter and why the decision was made to pay compensation.

Fine Gael's Jerry Buttimer also questioned RTÉ's legal advice, while United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly told Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte that he would be judged on the issue.

Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy and independent TDs Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Catherine Murphy and Mick Wallace also requested answers from the minister in relation to the payment.

Mr Rabbitte said he would not be interfering with RTÉ's management of the case and he had no role in dealing with editorial matters or with litigation claims.

He said he would be proposing an amendment to the Broadcasting Act that would require broadcasters to avoid causing undue offence in a way that would be more in tune with the realities of public debate.

People who put themselves out as commentators fully appreciate that debate can be robust, personal and sometimes hostile, he added.

Mr Rabbitte said politicians had to operate in this environment and it would be  matter of serious concern if recourse to our defamation laws were to have a chilling effect on public debate on this issue.

In an emotional response, Mr Lyons said two people in the House knew what homophobia felt like.

He said he had been subject to homophobic abuse. RTÉ was bang out of order and had got it wrong, he said.

Mr Buttimer said he had been beaten, spat on and chased.

Keywords: lgbt, rte