RTÉ’s €4.7 million defamation bill over the past six years

RTÉ has been issued with 29 separate sets of legal proceedings for defamation over the past six years with a sharp uptick in cases so far this year.

The cases have cost the broadcaster more than €4.7 million – or an average of around €160,000 each – although not all the cases have yet been closed and costs are likely to rise still further.

RTÉ said it would not be possible to say how often they were threatened with a defamation claim but could provide data on when legal proceedings were actually issued.

They said in 2017, there had been eight cases, four the following year, and another five cases in 2019, according to records released under FOI.

In 2020, there were seven cases, and just one in 2021. However, the number of defamation proceedings has bounced back with four already in the first five months of this year.