Monday 21 October 2019

Undecided? Here’s who’s lined up for RTE's final Prime Time Referendum Debate tonight

Miriam O'Callaghan on Prime Time/ RTE One
Miriam O'Callaghan on Prime Time/ RTE One
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

With the referendum on the Eighth Amendment fast approaching on Friday RTE is hosting its final TV debate on the issue tonight.

Prime Time - The Referendum Debate is a specially extended live programme broadcast three days before polling day at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.

Miriam O'Callaghan and David McCullagh host RTÉ's final television referendum debate with the No and Yes sides going head-to-head before a live studio audience of 90 people who will also contribute to the debate.

Speaking for Yes will be Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD with Prof. Mary Higgins, Consultant Obstetrician/Together for Yes.

In studio representing the No side will be Cora Sherlock, Solicitor/Love Both and Peadar Tóibín TD, Sinn Fein.

Last week RTÉ hosted another televised debate of the referendum campaign which sparked a number of complaints.

Claire Byrne Live ran along a similar format to tonight's debate with contributions from an audience of both Yes and No supporters.

There was repeated clapping and cheering throughout the programme and accusations that representatives on both sides were telling lies.

In a statement, RTÉ said it gave “an equal opportunity” for both sides to air their arguments “which both sides did passionately and trenchantly”.

“Impartial analysis of Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special will show that when the number of speakers on each side of the referendum question and the airtime afforded to them are both taken into account, the programme gave an equitable and fair opportunity to both sides to express their views,” a spokesperson said.

“While the programme did its best to include as many voices as it could, it was not possible to speak to everyone and it was made clear to every audience member in advance that there was no guarantee they would get to speak on the programme.”

The broadcaster confirmed that it has received complaints but declined to release the exact figures because of the campaign is ongoing. They plan to revealed more details after the vote on May 25.

In total 650,000 viewers tuned in at some point during the programme last Monday night.

Read more: Television review: It's not all that complicated....

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