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Government reminders about coronavirus-related restrictions are ubiquitous across Ireland (Simon Roughneen)
Government reminders about coronavirus-related restrictions are ubiquitous across Ireland (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Ireland’s public broadcaster RTÉ is facing a police probe after several television and radio stars were photographed while not observing coronavirus-related distancing during an office party.

Director of Human Resources Eimear Cusack said on Monday that RTÉ representatives “met with An Garda Síochána [the official Irish name for the police] today in respect of their inquiry.”

The news presenters and talk show hosts involved have apologized, with Miriam O’Callaghan saying on RTÉ radio on Sunday that “I let everyone down, and for that I will be forever sorry.”

Moya Doherty, chair of the station’s board, said there is “an onus” on RTÉ to be “both above reproach and to lead by example.”

The Irish Independent, one of the country’s biggest newspapers, said on Monday that the apologies were “half-hearted lame excuses.”

Prime Minister Micheál Martin described the images, which were published last week and showed several household names posing with their arms around each other while not wearing masks, as “very disappointing.”

“Aren’t those RTÉ presenters lucky they don’t have RTÉ after them?” David Quinn, a columnist for The Sunday Times, wrote on Twitter.

Martin’s government has imposed some of the toughest pandemic-related curbs in Europe, with pubs closed since March for all but two weeks and public worship banned for a second time since early October.

RTÉ has editorialized in favour of restrictions and reported extensively on alleged breaches, including an August golf event that led to the resignation of EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Hogan’s position was the subject of the top five news stories on RTÉ’s website for several hours on both August 26 and 27.

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