RTÉ to exclude Ciaran Mullooly from the Upfront TV debate tonight

Ciaran Mullooly, Independent Ireland MEP candidate, Midlands-North West and former RTE Midlands Correspondent, has released a statement highlighting his displeasure at RTÉ’s decision to exclude him from tonight’s Primetime Upfront TV debate.

Mr Mullooly said: “Coimisiún na Meán offers guidance to broadcasters such as RTÉ so they may consider the evidence provided by recent opinion polls before making important final decisions on whom to give valuable airtime to or include in influential high-profile debates such as Monday night’s Midlands North West debate on RTE One.

“The last test of the electoral popularity of many of the individual candidates in this European Parliament campaign was a full five years ago. Most of those who went before the public at that stage have not had an opportunity to indicate an increase or decline in their support from the electorate since 2019, and two of the four MEPs elected in Midlands North West at that time have since left office.

“Coimisiún na Meán is clearly of the opinion that RTE – aware of the consistently – high ratings of a candidate carried out over 5 successive opinion polls by professional research companies (IPSOS, Red C and Ireland Thinks) over the last 8 weeks – can ignore or dismiss such findings in distributing critical airtime or selecting just 8 representatives to take part in Monday’s Primetime TV debate. Furthermore, RTE itself refuses to follow the guidance of Coimisiún na Meán.

“Yesterday, I made RTÉ aware of the clear evidence of these 5 opinion polls. I suggested they meet with my Director of Elections to review such evidence before finalising their decision on the TV debate structure. RTÉ has yet to accept the invitation to attend such a meeting.

“Today I intend to raise this very significant discrepancy in the interpretation of the guidelines set down by Coimisiún na Meán with the Director General of RTÉ, the Chairperson of the Board and the Minister for Communications.”

Reacting to the news of Mr Mullooly’s exclusion, Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice, Independent Ireland TD for Roscommon-Galway said: “It’s hard to believe a candidate for a party with three sitting TDs, who is in serious contention for a seat according to every poll, would be excluded from a key TV debate.

“But the deck is loaded it seems. It’s the same old story, but it is very unfair to new independent candidates and candidates from smaller parties or newer parties. Yes, there has to be limits but to be fair, applying a bit of common sense would greatly improve the public’s trust in the process.”