RTÉ defends Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special following criticism 2 years ago

RTÉ defends Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special following criticism

A lively debate took place on Monday night...

RTÉ has defended the Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special debate on the Eighth Amendment which was held live on RTÉ One on Monday night.

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The show consisted of three people from both the Yes and No campaigns, with the Yes side represented by Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald, co-director of Together For Yes, Orla O'Connor, and Chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Peter Boylan.

The No side was represented by Irish Catholic author and Iona Institute spokesperson Maria Steen, Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler and obstetrician Dr John Monaghan.

Testimonies and statements were also taken from experts and members of the public who were in the audience.

The debate drew criticism in some quarters, especially online, with Senator Catherine Noone referring to it as "poorly planned, disorganised and quite frankly like a circus".

In a statement issued to JOE, RTÉ defended the programme stating:

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"Last night's Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special gave both the Yes and No campaigns an equal opportunity to air their arguments, which both sides did passionately and trenchantly. The panel was composed of three speakers on each side of the argument and the audience was evenly divided between Yes and No.

"Impartial analysis of Claire Byrne Live Referendum Special will show that when the number of speakers on each side of the referendum question and the airtime afforded to them are both taken into account, the programme gave an equitable and fair opportunity to both sides to express their views.

"While the programme did its best to include as many voices as it could, it was not possible to speak to everyone and it was made clear to every audience member in advance that there was no guarantee they would get to speak on the programme."