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Prime Time

Prime Time
Genre Current Affairs
Created by RTÉ News and Current Affairs
Directed by David Donaghy
Presented by
Country of origin Republic of Ireland
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Aideen O'Sullivan, Isabel Perceval
Editor(s) Donogh Diamond
Location(s) RTÉ Television Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin
Running time 40 minutes
Original channel RTÉ One
Picture format 720x576 (1998–present anamorphic 16:9, pre-1998 4:3)
Original release 17 September 1992 – present
Preceded by Today Tonight
Related shows Prime Time Investigates
The Frontline
Questions and Answers
External links

Prime Time is a current affairs programme airing on RTÉ One on Monday (22.30) and Tuesday and Thursday nights (following the RTÉ Nine O'Clock News).

First broadcast on RTÉ One in 1992, Miriam O'Callaghan has been its main presenter for over fifteen years.[1] O'Callaghan's fellow presenters are Claire Byrne and David McCullagh.[2] Only one show per week is broadcast during the summer months. In January 2013, The Frontline's format and presenter were subsumed into Prime Time as part of a re-branding exercise at RTÉ News and Current Affairs. Pat Kenny soon left RTÉ.


  • Format 1
  • History 2
    • Early years 2.1
    • Cardinal Secrets 2.2
    • Reynolds defamation 2.3
    • Meath East by-election debate 2.4
    • Great #irishukrainiansnotrussians Meltdown of 2014 2.5
    • Enda Kenny interview 2.6
  • Presenters 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Ireland's serious issues are dealt with, often with politicians, journalists, commentators and industry representatives giving their views live in the studio or via satellite link-up from RTÉ's regional studios and abroad. Two-three stories tend to be covered, with a report from a correspondent followed by a studio discussion. Sometimes the full programme will be devoted to one topic, and may consist entirely of an in-depth documentary piece from a single reporter - an extended edition is broadcast on occasions such as a general election.

Debates in front of (and involving) an audience have been broadcast on Tuesday nights from a newly enlarged studio.[3] The first of these aired on 5 February 2013, the night of the publication of a report into the Magdalene Laundries.[4]


Early years

Prime Time in its original format began on Thursday 17 September 1992, replacing Today Tonight— similar in format and airing since 1980. The introduction of the new programme was part of a wider change in current affairs broadcasting by RTÉ. Today Tonight, which had been broadcast from Monday to Thursday, would now be replaced by five very different and distinct types of current affairs programmes which would be broadcast from Sunday to Thursday. These included Farrell on Sunday, a series where Brian Farrell would conduct a series of one-to-one interviews with public figures. Questions and Answers would fill the Monday current affairs slot and would continue with its usual format of a panel of public figures answering questions from the audience. Tuesday File would contain a weekly filmed report. Marketplace, which was previously broadcast on Network 2, would occupy the Wednesday slot and would deal with financial matters, industrial relations, public affairs and business. Prime Time would round off the week's current affairs programming on Thursday evenings.

Cardinal Secrets

Mary Raftery's Prime Time special "Cardinal Secrets" broadcast of 2002 led to the Murphy Commission of Investigation into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese being set up; the Murphy Report was published in 2009.[5]

Reynolds defamation

A spin-off series, Prime Time Investigates, used to be shown on Monday nights in short seasons of four to six episodes, featuring investigative journalism and undercover reporting. The series suspended in 2011 after RTÉ's Aoife Kavanagh defamed Fr. Kevin Reynolds in an episode aired on RTÉ One with the title, "Mission to Prey", during which Kavanagh falsely accused Fr. Kevin Reynolds of raping a woman and fathering a child in Kenya.[6][7][8] Director-General of RTÉ Noel Curran admitted the broadcasting of "Mission to Prey" was "one of the gravest editorial mistakes ever made" at RTÉ.[9]

PTI was officially cancelled by RTÉ director-general Noel Curran on 4 April 2012.[10] RTÉ was fined €200,000 by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) as a result of the defamation of Fr Kevin Reynolds following what the BAI said were serious breaches of the Broadcasting Act 2009.[11][12] Its report found that "Second-hand repetition of gossip appears to have been treated as corroboration, as Ms Kavanagh did not appear to have met or questioned colleagues who according to the primary source, were aware of the allegations".[13] Aoife Kavanagh resigned from RTÉ on 4 May 2012.[14]

Meath East by-election debate

On 25 March 2013, a Prime Time television debate held ahead of the 2013 Meath East by-election featured the candidates from the four parties RTÉ perceived to be the front-runners: Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Excluded were all other candidates, including the Green Party and Workers' Party candidates—as well as Direct Democracy Ireland's Ben Gilroy, who finished fourth ahead of Labour.

Workers' Party candidate Seamus McDonagh said the Prime Time editor had no "consistent criteria" for this decision, and criticised the lack of an invitation to even sit in the audience despite having, he said, the support of several TDs including Richard Boyd Barrett, John Halligan, Finian McGrath and Thomas Pringle. DDI's Ben Gilroy said RTÉ "just basically ignored us completely."[15]

Great #irishukrainiansnotrussians Meltdown of 2014

The "Great #irishukrainainsnotrussians Meltdown of 2014", as it was referred to by at least one media outlet,[16] was first reported as having occurred during a Prime Time broadcast on the night of 3 February 2014 when an inexplicable voice interrupted proceedings to insist "Irish Ukrainians Not Russians". This continued for much of the programme, overshadowing presenter David McCullagh, and immediately led to a remix being released online and the incident trending nationwide.[16] The voice also appeared in follow-up programmes, including the detective series Scott & Bailey.[16] RTÉ said it could neither explain nor call a halt to this "infuriating technical difficulty".[17] Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore had, however, earlier insulted the Russians and summonsed his ambassador for talks on the ongoing crisis in Crimea.[18]

Enda Kenny interview

Taoiseach Enda Kenny used Prime Time to submit to a rare live television interview on 19 February 2015.[19] RTÉ delayed the much anticipated interview for an episode of British soap opera EastEnders.[20]


Prime Time is currently presented by one or two people from the following panel:

  • Claire Byrne (having covered for the usual presenters on several occasions during 2012, Byrne was invited to join the presenting team)
  • Fine Gael TD when he was replaced by Sean Whelan; he returned to the Current Affairs division proper, joining Prime Time to report on economics)
  • David McCullagh
  • Miriam O'Callaghan
Former presenters
  • Vincent Browne 2000–2001
  • Richard Crowley (originally reported for the show in his role as a foreign correspondent, replaced Mark Little as a presenter and returned to radio news after completing his three year contract.
  • Donogh Diamond (joined as a reporter, often covered for the main presenters and is now the show's editor)
  • Brian Farrell 1997–2004
  • Pat Kenny 2012-2013 (having presented one edition in 2012 when all usual presenters were unavailable, Kenny joined the show when his former show The Frontline was subsumed into Prime Time)
  • Éamonn Lawlor 1996–1999
  • Mark Little 2002–2009 (left RTÉ to set up his new social media journalism venture Storyful)[21]
  • Michael McMillan 1994–1996
  • Olivia O'Leary 1992–1994
  • Keelin Shanley (joined as a reporter, rose to the role of presenter, moved on the present morning news show Morning Edition)
Current reporters
  • Kevin Burns
  • Mark Coughlan
  • Barry Cummins
  • Katie Hannon[22]
  • Ian Kehoe[23]
  • Adrian Lydon
  • Paul Maguire[24]
  • Paul Murphy
  • Eithne O'Brien[25]
  • Barry O'Kelly[26]* Robert Shortt
  • Rita O'Reilly[27]
  • Oonagh Smyth
Former reporters

See also


  1. ^ Mitchell, Susan (3 July 2005). "Prime-time couple". The Sunday Business Post (Thomas Crosbie Holdings). Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  2. ^ Butler, Laura; Sweeney, Ken (25 October 2012). "New lease of life for George Lee as Richard Crowley quits Prime Time". Irish Independent. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "All eyes on tonight's revamped Prime Time as O'Callaghan and Kenny to co-host first show". Irish Independent. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Tonight's Prime Time report into the Magdalen Laundries". RTÉ. 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Journalist Mary Raftery dies aged 54". RTÉ News. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Aoife Kavanagh: Journalist who made the headlines". Irish Independent. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  7. ^ McGreevy, Ronan (23 November 2011). "'"Reporter's broadcasts in wake of libel finding 'unfair. The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Taoiseach cites 'grievous drop' in RTÉ standards over Fr Reynolds libel case". BBC News (BBC). 23 November 2011. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Cullen, Paul; McGreevy, Ronan (23 November 2011). "'"RTÉ shelves investigative series and concedes 'grave mistake. The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "RTÉ Axes ‘Prime Time Investigates’". IFTN. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Report criticises RTÉ journalism standards". BBC News (BBC). 4 May 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "BAI finds 'significant failure of editorial and managerial controls' at RTÉ". RTÉ. 4 May 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "Sweeping assumptions raise concerns". The Irish Times. 5 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  14. ^ "Mission to Prey reporter Aoife Kavanagh resigns from RTÉ". 4 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  15. ^ "Prime Time criticised as candidates excluded from Meath East debate". The Journal. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c "RTÉ One had a repetitive, ‘infuriating’ meltdown… and there’s already a remix: Irish Ukrainians, not Russians. Irish Ukrainians, not Russians. Irish Ukrainians, not Russians. Irish Ukrainians, not Russians.". 3 February 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2014. What was your favourite part of the Great #irishukrainainsnotrussians Meltdown of 2014? Tell us in the comments below. 
  17. ^ "Technical difficulties at RTÉ leave viewers stumped". 3 February 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Gilmore summons Russian ambassador to meeting over Crimea: Tánaiste describes situation in Ukraine as the ‘worst crisis since the end of the Cold War’". 3 March 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  19. ^ "Taoiseach on a rare one-on-one interview live on TV". 19 February 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  20. ^ "RTÉ has delayed the Taoiseach’s interview… because of EastEnders". Business, etc. 19 February 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  21. ^ Doyle, Kevin (17 December 2009). "It's Mark's last time on Prime Time in TV gamble".  
  22. ^ "Katie Hannon". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  23. ^ David Medcalf (12 October 2010). "Ian lands Prime Time spot". Enniscorthy Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Paul Maguire". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "Eithne O'Brien". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  26. ^ "Barry O'Kelly".  
  27. ^ "Rita O'Reilly". Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 

External links

  • Official website
  • #rtept on Twitter
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