Saturday 20 January 2018

RTE gets over 100 complaints about Miriam O’Callaghan’s Prime Time debate

RTÉ confirmed it received over 100 complaints about Wednesday’s 'Prime Time' debate between the seven presidential candidates and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has also received an unspecified number of complaints.

Many of the complaints concerned the treatment of the Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness by presenter Miriam O’Callaghan.

Complainants felt that Ms O'Callaghan had treated Mr McGuinness unfairly when she quizzed him about his IRA membership and what he knew about the killing of Private Patrick Kelly in 1983.

Mr McGuinness claimed the questioning he faced was "unfair and totally out of order".

Ms O’Callaghan agreed to meet him in her dressing room after the show and it is understood that he complained strongly to her.

He was further annoyed when the other six candidates were asked to give their opinions on whether he was suitable for the presidency.

"I thought it was wrong. I thought it was unfair and I thought it was totally out of order, I have to say," Mr McGuinness said.

Ms O'Callaghan was asking candidates about their religious beliefs and turned to Mr McGuinness, and noting his IRA past, said: "How do you square, Martin McGuinness, with your God, the fact that you were involved in the murder of so many people?"

The Sinn Fein MP initially said the question was a disgrace. He added : "I was accused by Miriam of being a murderer. I think that was wrong. I think it was totally out of order. I was then subjected to a show trial on television. Miriam then went round all the other candidates and asked each and every one of them whether or not I would be a fit person to be president of Ireland.

"She didn't ask me if I thought any of the rest would be a fit president of Ireland."

Sinn Fein had circulated an email giving the numbers to complain to about the debate.

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