Sinn Féin issues legal letter to RTÉ following exclusion from leaders' debate 8 months ago

Sinn Féin issues legal letter to RTÉ following exclusion from leaders' debate

The party made the announcement on Wednesday evening.

Sinn Féin has said it is sending a legal letter to RTÉ calling on the national broadcaster to reverse its decision exclude party leader Mary Lou McDonald in an upcoming TV debate.

RTÉ announced it would hold two debates in the run up to the general election on 8 February. The first, which will be held next week, will feature seven party leaders while another the week after will feature just the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Virgin Media is also holding two debates, the first between Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar which is taking place on Wednesday night, and another with all the party leaders next week.

Sinn Féin has argued in recent days that an opinion poll conducted by The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI, which showed Sinn Féin just two points behind Fine Gael, means that Mary Lou McDonald should not be excluded from RTÉ's debate between Varadkar and Martin.

On Wednesday evening, Sinn Fein's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the party has issued a legal letter to RTÉ demanding that Sinn Féin and other voices are included in the debate.

“Myself and Deputy Eoin Ó Broin have instructed our legal team to issue a legal letter to RTÉ demanding that they reverse their decision to exclude Sinn Féin and other voices from this debate,” Doherty said.

“It is simply not fair to have a leaders debate in the mouth of an election which excludes the views of the majority of people across this island.

"The reality is these two parties have shared government for the last four years, and we all have seen the mess they have made of it. The last time there was a leaders debate limited to two parties was way back in 2007 and RTÉ need to understand that politics has been transformed and people’s opinions have changed over those years."

“So RTÉ needs to do the right thing on behalf of this election but also in relation to the [TV] licence payer who fund RTÉ and they need to drop the exclusion of Sinn Féin from this debate,” Doherty said.