Fine Gael’s Deputy Director of Elections for the Seanad Abolition Referendum, Regina Doherty TD, has this evening (Monday) expressed concern that the national broadcaster, RTE, is determined to exclude non-political voices from tomorrow’s Primetime debate panel on the Seanad Referendum.
“The absolute essence of a Referendum is that the public have their say - not just the politicians – and I am very surprised that RTE is denying those other public voices a seat on the debate panel.
"To date RTE has not offered any valid reason for excluding non-political voices from the panel of their proposed debate, probably because one doesn't exist. It is inexplicable that the key public voices who have been active participants in the debate on the proposed abolition of the Seanad are to be excluded from a Primetime panel debate on the matter.
“This approach is also clearly a break with the practice in previous referendums where, to cite one recent case, RTE’s major set piece debate just days before the Stability Treaty Referendum featured Eamon Gilmore, Mary Lou McDonald, Declan Ganley and Nora Casey. That panel more accurately reflected the actual public debate which was taking place at the time on what was a very important issue.
“On a similarly important issue such as the Seanad Abolition Referendum, it seems very odd that RTE is refusing to adopt a consistent approach.
“Fine Gael has said that it will participate in all debates possible on the abolition of the Seanad, and tomorrow evening is no exception. But there are many voices on both sides of this debate and it is important that they are heard. Rather than trying to artificially manufacture a Leaders' debate, for whatever reason, I believe non-political voices should also be heard on tomorrow evening’s Primetime panel.”