Photographs that emerged online of a gathering that took place in RTE last week have sparked outrage as they show a number of broadcasters standing close together with no social distancing or masks. Megan O’Brien explored the reactions on Twitter.
Miriam O’Callaghan, David McCullagh, Bryan Dobson and Eileen Dunne were among the staff that appeared in the pictures as they joined in on an “impromptu” gathering at RTE HQ for their retiring colleague Phil Collins.
Shortly after the pictures surfaced, #RTEgate began trending on Twitter. Members of the public voiced their opinions on the breach of Covid-19 guidelines, which the broadcaster has so intensely promoted throughout the pandemic. Many expressed feeling “betrayed” as they considered the elderly and high risk citizens that RTE have encouraged to isolate via their broadcasts.
There was also backlash from others working in the media industry including KCLR Head of Content, Eimear Ni Bhraonain and former Newstalk presenter, George Hook.
Hook among others implied that it seems an apology is sufficient in RTE and as that seems to be the case, they mockingly questioned would Sean O’Rourke be reinstated.
The broadcasters issued apologies on air which were circulated online by RTE. The backlash continued in response to these, with many saying that the apologies weren’t genuine as they only apologised after they got caught.
The apparent acception of these apologies sparked another hashtag to trend on Twitter, #RTEbias, which discussed how it seems that rules for the public don’t apply for the RTE ‘celebs’.
Taoiseach Michael Martin condemned the gathering, describing the photos as “disappointing”. He said “I don’t excuse the behaviour, it’s very disappointing, particularly in those in public life across in the broadest sense, need to be leading by example.”
Three probes are now underway to investigate the event.