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10.41 20 Nov 2020


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RTÉ has apologised after senior broadcasters were pictured failing to observe social distancing at a staff party.

Miriam O'Callaghan, David McCullagh, Bryan Dobson and RTE News Managing Director Jon Williams have apologised after images of them enjoying a ‘short, impromptu’ party were published this morning.

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

In a statement, RTÉ said the broadcasters were “well intentioned” but the breaches were “unnecessarily risky and should not have happened.”

"Urgent review"

This afternoon, the National Union of Journalist (NUJ) called for an “urgent review” of all the circumstances surrounding the function, where it said there were “grave breaches” of coronavirus guidelines.

NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said the apology was welcome but warned "this incident should not have happened."

"RTÉ workers have worked extremely hard since March and have held public figures to account for their actions," he said.

"I have been contacted by a number of members who believe this incident has the capacity to undermine that hard earned trust and confidence."

The union called on the State broadcaster to carry out a full investigation into its COVID-19 protocols so its staff are kept safe.

"Short, impromptu gathering"

“A small number of RTÉ personnel working on site recently attended a short impromptu gathering in a public area and in the place of work of a long-serving colleague to say farewell on her last day,” it said.

“While social distancing was observed overall and in compliance with RTÉ's site protocols, as photos in the press today show, a number of those present briefly posed for a photo with their departing colleague, before returning to work.”

The broadcaster said it “takes public health advice with the utmost seriousness” and noted that no cases of COVID-19 have been transmitted at the Montrose campus to date.

"Deeply regret"

Presenter Bryan Dobson said: “I deeply regret what was a momentary but nonetheless serious lapse of judgement for which I unreservedly apologise.”

Miriam O’Callaghan said: “I am so sorry and deeply regret and apologise for an error of judgement on my part.”

The broadcaster’s Managing Director News & Current Affairs Jon Williams said: “I deeply regret not thinking through the consequences of a momentary lapse of judgement. It was wrong and I'm very sorry.”

RTÉ said it regrets the incident and has "reminded all staff of their obligations to keep both themselves and the site safe, particularly over the very busy few weeks we are heading into."


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