Tuesday 20 August 2019

Gormley rounds on RTÉ over Healy-Rae debate


Former environment minister John Gormley. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Former environment minister John Gormley. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Aine Kenny

A climate change debate featuring TD Michael Healy-Rae has been deemed "awful stuff" by a former environment minister.

Former Green Party TD John Gormley hit out at RTÉ after the 'Prime Time' debate and claimed the Kerry TD is a "climate change sceptic".

"Quite simply, giving a platform to those sort of views is no longer a tenable position for our national broadcaster, given that climate breakdown is our biggest challenge," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Healy-Rae has previously said he feels farmers are unfairly blamed for climate change and we should look at "10,000 aeroplanes in the sky".

His brother, TD Danny Healy-Rae, has also stated that he does not "subscribe to the idea that man can influence climate". He said: "God above is in charge of the weather, and we here can't do anything about it."

Mr Gormley said RTÉ should adopt a climate change reporting policy like the BBC's. The BBC's guidelines on "false balance" state: "To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday."

Michael Healy-Rae defended his appearance on 'Prime Time', saying: "I think everyone's entitled to an opinion. What is the point in two people sitting on a programme with the exact same ideology? It's not a debate."

He said he agreed with cutting down on single-use plastics and that deforestation was an issue.

RTÉ said Broadcasting Authority of Ireland guidelines state "the principle of fairness does not necessarily require that all possible opinions on a subject are addressed or that they should receive equal airtime".

It added: "The BAI advise that covering issues of public debate should be guided by ensuring 'equitable, proportionate coverage'."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section