'You cannot have this whooping, jeering and hollering on such a sensitive matter' - ministers attack RTÉ after debate win for No
Varadkar defends his refusal to take part in live TV debates
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has criticised RTÉ's live debate on the abortion referendum, which was won by the No camp.
Mr Varadkar, who is refusing to take part in live TV debates, told the Irish Independent there was "a lot of point-scoring" in the programme.
And Health Minister Simon Harris compared the "whooping, jeering and hollering" in the debate to a football match.
The chair of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone, said she would refuse to take part in a similar debate.
It was widely judged that the debate on 'Claire Byrne Live' was won by the No side, led by Maria Steen of the Iona Institute.
RTÉ has confirmed it received complaints from both sides of the debate about Monday night's programme.
RTÉ intends to push ahead with plans to have another live audience present for a 'Prime Time' debate next Tuesday.
A spokesperson for RTÉ said both sides were given fair opportunities to air their views "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," she said.
But Mr Varadkar said the nature of the TV debate format meant it "wasn't maybe as reflective as it might have been".
Similar to his predecessor Enda Kenny's failure to take part in debates, the Taoiseach doesn't intend to participate in any debates ahead of the vote next Friday.
He said he will be "knocking in on people".
"The best thing I can do is one-to-one interviews; talking directly to people in train stations and shopping centres and on their doorsteps," he said.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said yesterday he would be willing to take part in a debate.
The Government has nominated Mr Harris to lead the Yes side for the 'Prime Time' debate, which will be hosted by Miriam O'Callaghan and David McCullagh.
Mr Harris said both sides of the argument will have to be more respectful.
"You cannot have this whooping, jeering and hollering when you are talking about such a sensitive matter that has impacted so many women and their partners in this country," he said.
Meanwhile, Newstalk broadcaster Pat Kenny has claimed his radio show was "targeted in an organised way" after an interview with Yes advocate Dr Peter Boylan.
Mr Kenny said he received a string of texts and other communications suggesting he gave the chairperson of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists "free reign".
He described as "very curious" the same phrase was later used in the Dáil by Independent TD Mattie McGrath, who is a vocal No campaigner.
Mr McGrath told the Irish Independent the radio host was "sadly mistaken" if he believed there was a conspiracy at play.
The Tipperary TD said he does have office staff who help prepare scripts but he was not led by the No campaign.
"I don't stick to a script anyway. I'm free thinking. Why doesn't Pat have me on and he'd find out?" Mr McGrath said.