Sunday 19 November 2017

RTE gives Adams a special slot to address the nation

Handout photo of Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the televised National Address on Sunday
Handout photo of Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the televised National Address on Sunday

Niall O'Connor, Michael Brennan and Caroline Crawford

RTE HAS made special arrangements to ensure Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams can make a televised address tonight.

While Fianna Fail and the Dail's technical group replied to the Taoiseach's 'State of the Nation' address last night, Sinn Fein asked to delay Mr Adams's statement by 24 hours.

The national broadcaster agreed to assign a special slot to Mr Adams as he was out of the country for Nelson Mandela's funeral. He will deliver the final televised speech after the 'Six-One' news.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave his address on Sunday and was followed last night by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Independent TD Shane Ross, who spoke on behalf of the technical group.

The cost of the broadcasts is borne by RTE, which decided not to request a financial contribution from the political parties.

The station defended the decision to allow all parties and the Independents to deliver speeches, adding that it was taken in order to ensure "fairness and balance".

CLASH

However, it has emerged that station bosses were contacted by Sinn Fein officials, who were concerned that the broadcast would clash with Mr Adams's trip to South Africa for the Nelson Mandela funeral.

"We aimed to do them over two days but Sinn Fein requested to do theirs on Tuesday as Gerry Adams is en route back from the Mandela funeral," a spokeswoman told the Irish Independent.

Asked whether RTE considered proposing that SF put forward a different spokesperson, the spokeswoman said: "No, we were happy to accommodate the broadcast on Tuesday."

A spokesman for Sinn Fein said the party wanted to ensure Mr Adams was accommodated, given that he is party leader.

Meanwhile, Mr Martin used his address to warn of a two-tier recovery "where some prosper but many are left behind".

He said that the Government's austerity Budgets have "hit struggling families hardest" and that morale has never been lower among health workers.

Mr Martin focused on mortgage arrears and called on the Government to establish an independent Mortgage Resolution Office.

Mr Ross said Ireland's exit from the bailout did not mean there should be a "national celebration".

He used his speech to attack the policies of the main political parties, which he described as being "joined at the hip".

"Political insiders insist that the Coalition had little alternative to the politics of austerity, adding that they were merely travelling a road that Fianna Fail would have followed to the letter," Mr Ross said.

"As an outsider, I see that the policies and practices of the big parties are joined at the hip."

The Dublin South TD emphasised the importance of confronting "unacceptable uses of public money" and highlighted last week's resignation of the board of the Central Remedial Clinic as an example of achieving change.

Earlier, Mr Kenny hit out at members of the opposition after questions were raised about his pledge on job creation.

During his televised address, Mr Kenny predicted that employment figures would increase to over two million by 2020 -- a growth of 100,000 full-time jobs.

However, using figures from the Official Live Register, Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath said that by the Taoiseach's own projections, some 300,000 people would be lingering on the dole in seven years' time.

The claim sparked a furious response from Fine Gael.

The party said that Mr McGrath had wrongly used figures from the live register to interpret Mr Kenny's job target.

Irish Independent

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