Sunday 25 March 2018

Budget 2016: RTÉ - Giving ministers questions was 'standard'

Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil has described RTÉ's decision to provide questions to ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin in advance of their post-Budget radio interview as "farcical".

The broadcaster has denied reports there was a threat Mr Noonan would not take part in Wednesday's phone-in on 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' unless his advisers got listeners' questions in advance.

RTÉ said "at no time was a threat delivered that a minister would not appear".

A spokeswoman said that advance access to questions was "standard practice".

"The primary purpose of the post-Budget programme is to enable the more detailed, personal and specific queries raised by individual voters and businesses to be addressed to the most accurate degree possible, and that requires some research to be done by government advisers."

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath told the Irish Independent: "I genuinely thought that show was a spontaneous engagement. It's embarrassing."

Mr Noonan's spokesperson declined to comment, but a source said: "If you are sitting two ministers down with members of the public, it's reasonable that you would have an idea of what they will ask."

Irish Independent

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