Labour candidate criticises RTÉ for exclusion from live debate
A Labour party candidate in the European elections claims he has been unfairly excluded from an all-party debate on RTE this weekend.
Dominic Hannigan, an MEP candidate for Midlands North West, claims the State broadcaster chose to include former ‘Dragon’s Den’ judge and businessman Peter Casey over him to appear on RTE’s ‘The Week in Politics’ on Sunday.
The debate will include five candidates battling for the seat, including those from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin and two Independents.
But he questioned why the State broadcaster would exclude a representative from the Labour party, which is the fourth largest party in the State.
“Midlands-North-West is a four-seat constituency. Having a TV panel of only five candidates for a four seater is tantamount to RTÉ declaring who they think the winning candidates will be in the race, which is totally inappropriate for an ongoing electoral contest,” he said.
He also slammed the broadcaster for inviting Mr Casey, a controversial independent candidate who made headlines when he controversially said that Travellers shouldn’t be recognised as a distinct ethnic group when he ran against Michael D. Higgins in the last presidential election.
“By choosing to include Peter Casey on its debate line-up, RTÉ is clearly prioritising entertainment ratings over public-service democratic debate.,” Mr Hannigan claimed.
“Given Mr. Casey’s track record of generating outrageous, attention-seeking headlines it appears RTÉ’s primary motivation is ratings rather than facilitating a meaningful debate on the challenges facing the Midlands-North West constituency,” he said.
“I believe the people of the Midlands-North West constituency need to hear from all viable candidates in this election, so they can make an informed judgement on polling day. RTÉ’s decision undermines that important democratic goal and goes against the principles of public service broadcasting,” he said.
In response, RTE said: "RTÉ's The Week in Politics will broadcast three special programmes focused on the upcoming European Parliament elections with all parties and groupings featuring fairly across the series which begins this Sunday. Labour candidate Dominic Hannigan has already recorded an interview contribution with RTÉ which will feature on this Sunday's programme."
A spokesperson for Mr Hannigan confirmed that a recorded interview with him will be included in the programme.
However, he will not be taking part in the live debate.