Holly Cairns TD

Unfair exclusion of Ireland South candidate Susan Doyle from RTÉ debates puts her at a huge disadvantage to her competitors

Two opinion polls in the past week have highlighted the unfairness of the exclusion of Social Democrats candidates by RTÉ from their televised European election debates, according to Social Democrats party leader Holly Cairns.

“A poll detailed in Thursday by the Irish Independent, and a separate Ireland Thinks poll published today by the Sunday Independent, have revealed that our Ireland South candidate Susan Doyle is in contention to win a seat.

“While every other candidate, who has a chance of winning a seat, will be in RTÉ’s televised Ireland South constituency debate, Susan has been excluded. This puts Susan at a huge disadvantage to her competitors.

“Rory Hearne, the Social Democrats candidate in Midlands North West, is also an excellent candidate and deserves an opportunity to outline his case for a seat in the European Parliament in that constituency in RTÉ’s imminent televised debate.

“In 2019, when the Social Democrats had just two TDs and ran just one candidate in that year’s European elections, the party qualified for one RTÉ debate. Five years later, the party has tripled our number of TDs, has 22 councillors and is running candidates in all three European constituencies. Despite this, we are still included in just one television debate. This is deeply unfair and does little to reflect the increased mandate the party received in the 2019 local election and general election in 2020.

“I appreciate that RTE must design qualifying criteria for these debates and that this is a difficult task. However, when the result of those criteria being implemented is a gross unfairness, like Social Democrats’ candidates with credible chances of winning a seat, being excluded from debates, then something is seriously wrong.

“In light of the opinion polling published this week – together with the Social Democrats’ hugely increased mandate in recent years – RTÉ must reverse this unfair and discriminatory decision.”

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