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Aontú TD Peadar Toibín
Aontú TD Peadar Toibín
Image: Leah Farrell/

Aontú withdraws application for injunction against RTÉ

The seven-way debate is scheduled to take place on RTÉ One tonight.
Jan 27th 2020, 12:59 PM 44,958 77

Updated Jan 27th 2020, 3:25 PM

AONTÚ PARTY LEADER Peadar Tóibín has withdrawn his application for a High Court injunction preventing a planned televised political debate tonight.

Lawyers acting for the Meath West TD told Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Monday afternoon that after some consideration, the application was no longer going ahead. 

The court was told that the time constraints involved in bringing such an application were among the reasons why the TD and party leader was not proceeding with his action.

The debate will see the leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour, the Green Party, the Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit face off in one of two seven-way debates ahead of next week’s general election. 

It will be broadcast on RTÉ One. 

Outside of court, Tóibín said he was “disappointed” with RTÉ’s decision to exclude a representative of his party from participating in the debate.

With the level of preparation of documents involved, there was not enough time to have the action heard in advance of the planed debate, he said.

It was “unfair” that Aontú cannot take part when other political groups with smaller or similar support were, he added.

The party had previously claimed that the national broadcaster’s reasons for excluding it from tonight’s Leaders’ Debate on Claire Byrne Live are “arbitrary and unfair”.

He said there had been discussions about the debate with Aontú and RTÉ up until Tuesday of last week, adding that he had hoped those talks would have ended “amicably.”

He added that he “radically disagreed” with RTÉ’s criteria for inclusion on the show, and add that other options are being considered, including referring the issue to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

Counsel said the proposed action was been brought arising out of Deputy Toibin’s “exclusion from the debate” by the national broadcaster and the TD was going to look for an order preventing the planned debate, which the leaders of seven political parties are expected to participate, from being broadcast.

The party had formerly pointed to its higher vote share than the Social Democrats and People Before Profit in a number of by-elections held in November, as well as its higher vote share than People Before Profit in last year’s local elections, as grounds for its inclusion.

Toibín had said that RTÉ facilitated debates with up to nine candidates for the recent European elections, one of which had criteria that the participant was an elected TD.

He added that new political parties such as Aontú would never have a chance to challenge established parties in live debates if the grounds for the party’s exclusion stood.

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