Saturday 29 April 2017

Minister's fury over Tubridy's coverage of protest group

Colin Farrell praised the protest group Photo: Andrew Goodman/Getty Images for Maui Film Festival
Colin Farrell praised the protest group Photo: Andrew Goodman/Getty Images for Maui Film Festival
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fine Gael ministers are furious with RTE over the station's coverage of the occupation of Apollo House by homelessness campaigners, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

At last week's Cabinet meeting, Housing Minister Simon Coveney launched an extraordinary attack on the national broadcaster over what he believed to be the station's unbalanced reporting of the celebrity-endorsed protest group.

Several Cabinet sources said Coveney singled out RTE's highest paid broadcaster Ryan Tubridy for his coverage of the demonstration on The Late Late Show and on his morning radio programme.

The minister also took a swipe at multimillionaire celebrities such as director Jim Sheridan and actor Colin Farrell for publicly supporting protesters who took over the Nama-owned building in Dublin city centre.

A senior Cabinet minister said Simon Coveney was "angry and agitated" by RTE's coverage of the demonstration organised by the Home Sweet Home campaign group.

A Cabinet minister said RTE treated the protest as a "celebratory event" rather than examining the political or legal implications of the action.

"It was very peculiar to have the national broadcaster engaging in idolatry around people advocating that it is legitimate to break the law and take over private property," a minister said.

Soon after protesters occupied Apollo House, Oscar-winning singer Glen Hansard was invited on to Ryan Tubridy's Late Late Show where he told viewers the group was involved in "an illegal act" and called on the "spirit of the Irish people" to support them. Colin Farrell, who is a supporter of the Homeless Street League charity, praised the Home Sweet Home group and also heavily criticised the Government for its lack of action during an interview on Tubridy's radio show.

"Why doesn't he give over one of his vacant mansions to help with the homelessness problem," a minister said in response to Farrell.

The Taoiseach's spokesman said the Government "fully respects" the work of the media but said "inevitably both sides view issues in a very different light".

Sunday Independent

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