RTÉ presenters have apologized for breaking COVID-19 guidelines at an impromptu farewell gathering for a long-term employee on their last day of work.
RTÉ News presenters Eileen Dunne and David McCullagh apologized for attending the event during a live broadcast on Friday, while Miriam O'Callaghan apologized on air during her radio show on Sunday.
Photos of the gathering appeared in the Irish Sun on Friday morning, showing Dunne, McCullagh, O'Callaghan, and other high-profile RTÉ staff members not wearing face masks and failing to observe social distancing measures.
Speaking on "Sunday With Miriam", Miriam O'Callaghan apologized for her part in the impromptu gathering on RTÉ's campus.
"I let everyone down and for that, I will be forever sorry," she said.
O'Callaghan said that it was her job to "lead by example" as someone in the public eye.
Meanwhile, David McCullagh apologized on Friday, describing his attendance as "an error of judgment".
"It is an error of judgment I deeply regret, for which I take full responsibility and for which I unreservedly apologize to you our audience," McCullagh said on Friday.
Double standards by @rte - who is going to hold them to account. The rest of us can't go to Mass,Funerals,GAA matches, Swimming Pools, Birthday Parties etc #shame #whoisgoingtoresign #COVID19 #rtegate #rteunmasked retweet so everyone sees this pic.twitter.com/C3TfUlnMyP— Jimmy O Brien (@jimmyobrien) November 20, 2020
Eileen Dunne also apologized on Friday and made a special apology to her RTÉ colleagues who had worked to keep the campus COVID-free during the pandemic.
"I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for my lack of judgment, particularly to RTÉ colleagues who’ve worked so hard to keep this campus COVID-free over the past eight months," she said.
“I’ve let you all down, and I’m sorry."
RTÉ Newscaster Eileen Dunne apologises for being present at a gathering last week, where social distancing was not fully observed | More: https://t.co/YnWpsn4SGn pic.twitter.com/ezrM3KUKvA— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 20, 2020
RTÉ additionally apologized in a statement and promised a full review of the circumstances that led to the gathering, while Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the incident as "very disappointing".
RTÉ's apology was welcomed by Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Seamus Dooley, who said that the incident might have damaged RTÉ's ability to hold others to account during the pandemic.
"RTÉ workers have worked extremely hard since March and have held public figures to account for their actions," Dooley told the Journal.
"I have been contacted by a number of members who believe this incident has the capacity to undermine that hard-earned trust and confidence."