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Fr Kevin Reynolds Photo by: Irish Independent

Wrongly accused priest says program makers must take responsibility for their libel

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Fr Kevin Reynolds Photo by: Irish Independent

The missionary priest libeled by Irish state broadcaster RTE has said those responsible for the false accusations must ‘face the consequences’.

Galway based priest Fr Kevin Reynolds has told his local Shannonside radio station that his solicitor is chasing RTE to name the source of their libellous claims.

The national broadcaster, in a TV programme entitled ‘Mission to Prey’, wrongly accused Fr Reynolds of the 1982 rape and impregnation of a teenage girl while he served on the missions in Kenya.

The programme in question, presented by journalist Aoife Kavanagh last May, also stated that Fr Reynolds had abandoned the girl and her daughter.

RTE announced on Tuesday that it is suspending the ‘Prime Time Investigates’ programme while a number of inquires take place, including one ordered by the government.

Now back working as a parish priest in Galway, Fr Reynolds settled his libel case with RTE last week for a figure believed to be in the region of $1.5million.

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The station only admitted liability after Fr Reynolds had undertaken a paternity test which proved his innocence – a test he offered to take before the programme was aired in May.

“Those responsible in RTE must face the consequences of their actions,” said Fr Reynolds in the interview with Shannonside Radio.

“While I am not looking for anyone to lose their jobs, the issue is now in the hands of my solicitor.

“I’m not out for anybody’s blood or for heads rolling or for people being sacked or whatever.

“When it comes to the whole area of justice, that is not my vocation. I will leave that in the hands of my solicitor, Robert Dore. He is very capable. They will pursue that in a legal way.”

Speaking just hours before RTE announced the suspension of the programme, Fr Reynolds said the decision makers at the national broadcaster had to take responsibility for their actions.

“People in authority, people who have been appointed to state institutions, people at the heart of decision-making like in RTE, they will have to face the consequences and I guess they are doing that now,” said Fr Reynolds.

The 65-year-old priest again outlined his anguish and dismay when first approached by RTE and faced with the libellous claims which were later broadcast.

“I was in a daze,” he said.  “I couldn’t get over how they could get it so wrong. I had a clear conscience.

“These allegations were totally baseless, untrue and I said I’m going to fight this until my dying breath.”

Fr Reynolds also repeated that he forgives those who treated him so badly at RTE.
He added: “As a priest, I pray and say Mass every day. You have to remember the core picture and the very heart of Christianity.

“It is all summed up in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Where there is no forgiveness, we are out of business.

“I have no difficulty in saying I forgive you to whoever accused me wrongly or inflicted such distress. That is what we have been taught to do.

“If I don’t forgive and hold all that and harbour those resentments and grudges and bad memories, I’m only damaging myself.”

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