Sub-series relates to an RTÉ Frontline television programme broadcast on 1 February 1980 that was researched and presented by Colum Kenny. The programme dealt with allegations that St Brendan’s Trust (the Kerry Diocesan Trust) had acquired 17 national school properties in the Beara Peninsula and sold them against the wishes of many in the local community. Prior to the Frontline programme being broadcast, the story was covered in Berehaven News, a newspaper published by Combat Poverty, a rural development group in the Beara Peninsula. A letter written by Kerry Diocesan Secretary and Social Policy Advisor (and Secretary of St Brendan’s Trust), Father Dermot Clifford condemning the Berehaven News article was also circulated to households in the Beara Peninsula area in January 1980.
After the Frontline programme aired, the Bishop of Kerry, Kevin McNamara and Father Clifford wrote (separately) to RTÉ Director General, George Waters to complain that Colum Kenny was “prejudiced in his approach” and “unfair” in an interview with Father Clifford. The complaint by Bishop McNamara, and the subsequent apologies made by Waters and RTÉ Chairman Patrick Moriarty to the Bishop were covered in several newspapers.
Father Clifford made an official complaint about the programme to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission in November 1980. The Commission rejected Father Clifford’s complaint in April 1981, and said the programme was not ‘a biased production’ and did not consider the interview unduly ‘harsh’.
This sub-series includes documents relating to the research for the programme and the production itself. Also includes letters and numerous newspaper cuttings relating to complaints made by Bishop McNamara and Father Clifford, and the subsequent decision of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.
Much of the sub-series consists of copies of private correspondence written by various individuals relating to the complaint made by Father Clifford to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission in November 1980. This particular material is currently closed and access will be reviewed in 2025.