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RTE opens door to Mary Lou McDonald being included in final TV debate

Sinn Féin put in formal request to be included in debate

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

RTÉ has opened the door to including Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald in the final televised debate of the general election campaign.

The broadcaster originally planned to host a debate on Prime Time this Tuesday featuring only Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Sinn Féin has repeatedly said their party leader should also be permitted to take part in the debate.

Following an increase in support for Sinn Féin across a number of opinion polls, RTÉ issued a statement today saying it will listen to suggestions on its coverage from all the political parties.

In the statement, the station said: “At the outset of the election RTÉ set out its approach to leaders debates based on empirical data.

“That has not changed. Throughout the campaign RTÉ has considered representations made by those contesting the election regarding our coverage and leaders debates. We will continue to give consideration to any representation made,” it added.

Sinn Féin has put in a formal request to RTÉ asking that Ms McDonald be included in the final election debate. The party said the criteria for choosing the format of the debate was out of date in light of recent opinion polls.

An RTÉ spokesperson said: “A representative of RTÉ met with Sinn Fein today and the broadcaster will respond to the issues raised in due course.”

RTÉ told Sinn Féin that the station’s election coverage steering group will review their request when it meets tomorrow morning.

The initial RTE statement followed a Business Post/Red C opinion poll which showed Sinn Féin (24pc) and Fianna Fáil (24pc) level on support while Fine Gael (21pc) was trailing behind them.

At a campaign event today, Ms McDonald said the poll showed the “energy and momentum for Sinn Féin and for change”.

She also listed her priorities for going into government which includes a rent freeze, reducing the State pension age to 65, cutting USC for all earnings up to €30,000 along with major investment in social housing and the health service.

Online Editors


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