Deputies demand answers on RTÉ Panti settlement

Panti Bliss

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has said he will not interfere in RTÉ's decision to make a settlement of €85,000 in relation to comments made in a discussion on gay rights on The Saturday Night Show.

The decision by the national broadcaster came under strong criticism in the Dáil this evening, with TDs demanding an explanation of the legal advice and where it came from.

Fine Gael TD, Jerry Buttimer, said: “The sequence of events arising from the Saturday night show give rise to very serious issues about how public discourse is conducted, the language we use, the labels we apply to others and in particular the role of public service broadcasting."

He said: "I do believe RTÉ were erroneous and wrong in what they did. They folded too quickly and I would like to ask who advised them, what was the nature of the advice, and were they involved in any other organisations other than advising RTÉ."

Labour TD, John Lyons said: “There has to be a political will in the interest of the national public to find out on what basis this was paid out. Because I certainly believe RTÉ were wrong to pay out this money on what was an anti-gay prejudice issue that people were challenged on.”

Minister Rabbitte said: “The RTÉ explanation is that it had expert advice available to it that advise that it didn’t have a case to defend."

He said: "I as Minister have no role in managing editorial matters, making decisions around programming, or dealing with litigation claims."

"I therefore have no intention in interfering with management of this specific file."

- Mary Regan, Irish Examiner

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