Casey criticises RTE’s ‘shambolic’ European election debate

Midlands-North-West European election candidate Peter Casey (Independent) has criticised Monday night’s political debate on RTE’s Upfront with Katie Hannon show, describing it as a “heated and chaotic discussion that failed to properly address the most pressing issues facing rural Ireland today”.

Casey, a former Dragons’ Den panellist on TV, expressed disappointment in independent candidate Saoirse McHugh for what he termed “childish behaviour”, presumably referring to her calling him a “clown” on live TV. He also criticised MEP Luke Flanagan, accusing him of being “obnoxious and insulting, constantly interrupting and talking over everyone”. Casey also claimed that Katie Hannon “lost control of the debate”. Casey was conspicuously missing from the panel for an extended portion of the latter half of the debate.

Regarding the debate itself, Casey said: “The show was a failure and a waste of time because it did not focus on the two most pressing issues concerning the people in Midlands-North-West: job creation in rural Ireland and the immigration crisis”.

In a wide-ranging press release, Casey criticised RTE for having eight candidates on the show and attempting to discuss “almost half a dozen topics, giving each candidate only six minutes”. He argued that under such conditions, it is impossible to have a meaningful debate: “The show should have focused on the immediate concerns closer to home and not the genocide in the Middle East.

“While it is a tragedy, the people in rural Ireland are not directly impacted by the bloodshed in Palestine – as terrible and tragic as it is, it does not keep them awake at night,” Casey remarked. “What keeps them awake at night is the thought that there won’t be a job in their own community for their child when they graduate from school and university”.

Casey argued that while one or two important issues like soil erosion were mentioned, overall, the debate was a sideshow with some candidates wasting time on “one-upmanship”. Citing job creation in rural Ireland as the number one topic facing the region, he also highlighted what he claimed has been his success in attracting large multinationals to Ireland and pledged to continue this work if elected.