Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.24 23 Nov 2020


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Former RTÉ broadcaster Charlie Bird says he believes the controversy over a retirement event at the national broadcaster is being blown out of proportion.

He says everybody makes mistakes, and that the apologies offered by those involved have been "really genuine".

Miriam O'Callaghan, David McCullagh and Bryan Dobson have all apologised on-air after images of them enjoying a ‘short, impromptu’ retirement party were published.

In the images they appear to be breaching social distancing guidelines.

RTÉ has said the event should not have happened, while there are calls for the broadcaster's boss to appear before the Oireachtas communications committee to address the controversy.

However, Mr Bird told Newstalk Breakfast says he does believe the controversy is becoming a bit of a 'flogging'.

Charlie Bird says we need to have 'sense of proportion' about RTÉ gathering

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He said: "I worked in RTÉ for 38 years - when I was there the receptionist there - Phil Collins - who people went down to say goodbye to, she was there. I knew her well - and there by the grace of God I probably would have been there myself on that day.

"We all make mistakes. We all make a slip-up. Everybody does it."

The veteran broadcast said that he accepts the presenters involved have been somewhat compromised, and will 'need to get over that'.

However, he said: "We have to just put this in a sense of proportion. I listened to Bryan Dobson on the News at One making a grovelling apology... you know as a broadcaster what that must have been like for him. I listened to David McCullagh on the six o'clock news do the same thing.

"They were really genuine... that was not something made up."

He said that even with the on-air apologies, the broadcasters in question got on with their job.

Mr Bird said he was reminded of the controversy around Sean O'Rourke, whose radio comeback was cancelled after his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.

He said: "What really upset me... was a senior RTÉ manager said that Sean O'Rourke would never work in RTÉ again. Nobody should use language like that.

"I know [that comment] was rowed back eventually by the RTÉ bosses... but we must all be prepared to accept people's bona fides and move on."

Main image: File photo of RTÉ headquarters in Donnybrook. Photo: RollingNews.ie

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