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Sunday 15 September 2019

1,300 complaints over Eighth debate on 'Claire Byrne Live'

RTE's Claire Byrne. Picture: Fergal Phillips
RTE's Claire Byrne. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

RTÉ received a massive 1,277 complaints in relation to the 'Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special'.

The programme, broadcast on May 14, stood out because of the often raucous behaviour of the audience.

There were also some fraught exchanges between the panellists including Dr John Monaghan, Dr Peter Boylan, Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald and the Iona Institutes's Maria Steen.

Station sources said the level of complaints was dramatic - although it is not a record.

It is understood there was more annoyance over the controversy dubbed 'Pantigate' in 2014, regarding comments made by Miss Panti, aka Rory O'Neill, on 'The Saturday Night Show'.

In regard to the complaints about 'Claire Byrne Live', approximately 92pc related to claims of unfairness towards the Yes side of the campaign.

In statement RTÉ said the show "gave both the Yes and No campaigns an equal opportunity to air their arguments, which both sides did with commitment and conviction".

They said Ms Byrne, pictured below, consistently requested speakers and audience to show respect for each other's point of view.

A spokesperson said "impartial analysis" would show the programme gave an equitable and fair opportunity to both sides to express their views.

RTÉ's second debate, which took place on 'Prime Time', was also marred by controversy after the No side withdrew solicitor Cora Sherlock just hours before the programme went to air.

Forty complaints were received about this programme.

Irish Independent

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