Euro hopeful accuses Radio Telefís Éireann (RTE) of party bias

An independent candidate in Friday’s European election told the High Court yesterday he had been treated unfairly by RTE in its coverage.

Fiachra O Luain, of Abbott’s Wood, Carndonagh, Co Donegal, who is seeking a seat in the North-West constituency, claimed the State broadcaster’s election coverage was unbalanced and heavily favoured Libertas candidate Declan Ganley.

Mr Justice Bryan McMahon refused to grant Mr O Luain a mandatory injunction directing RTE to include him in last night’s Prime Time European Election Special programme only hours before the show went on air.


The judge told Mr O Luain’s barrister, Michael McNamara, also a European election independent candidate in the North West constituency, that Mr O Luain had left his application much too late and the balance of justice now favoured RTE.

Judge McMahon adjourned until the new law term an application by Mr O Luain seeking declarations that RTE’s coverage of his election campaign was unlawful, in breach of its statutory duty and incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.

Mr O Luain told the court he had already made a complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission with regard to Today With Pat Kenny, which the Commission had stated it would consider after the election.

He had also complained about the unfairness generally of RTE coverage.

He had been told only last Friday that the Commission would not be able to deal with his complaints, particularly about not being allowed by RTE to participate in its flagship current affairs programme, prior to the election.

Mr McNamara stated he was acting solely as Mr O Luain’s barrister and was not politically associated with his application to the court. He said RTE had stated that it was not under an obligation to treat candidates equally and drew on previous electoral results in determining coverage for various candidates.

Judge McMahon said Mr O Luain’s application for declaratory reliefs by way of judicial review were not urgent and could be adjourned.

He refused his application for an injunction directing his participation in the programme only hours before it went on air and just three days before the election.


“It could have a serious effect on RTE at this late juncture and I have no way of knowing how they would react. They may react by pulling the programme and should they do that I may be denying justice to the electorate,” Judge Mc Mahon said.


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