RTÉ recruiting anti-Water protesters: Rabbitte

Former communications minister Pat Rabbitte has accused RTÉ of acting as a “recruiting sergeant” for Sinn Féin and far left groups opposed to the Coalition’s water charges.

The Labour TD said in the Dáil last night that “lopsided coverage” of the water issue may have come from a decision by RTÉ’s board to “strangle Irish Water at birth”.

The unprecedented remarks about the broadcaster come as the Coalition attempts to persuade households to pay water bills, which will begin arriving in letterboxes in the coming weeks.

Mr Rabbitte launched his blistering attack during a Dáil debate on the charges.

He claimed RTÉ had not “informed” or “educated” taxpayers as required under broadcasting rules.

The Dublin South West TD said: “RTÉ has acted as a recruiting sergeant for those who have taken control of and are manipulating the water protests.”

He queried why the broadcaster had not produced shows on river pollution or water systems.

Mr Rabbitte also claimed the station was relying on a source inside Irish Water “who seeks to ground a natural bias with distorted information, half-truths and bits of emails and internal papers”.

“If I didn’t know better, one might conclude that the lopsided coverage of the water issue derives from a decision of the RTÉ board to strangle Irish Water at birth.

“Treatment of the water issue has regrettably fallen short of what licence-paying citizens should reasonably expect.”

Concern about RTÉ’s coverage was also raised at Labour’s parliamentary party meeting last night.

RTÉ said that it “absolutely refutes the claims of imbalanced and biased coverage”.

“This has proved to be a contentious issue and RTÉ analysis, debate and coverage has been proportionate and objective,” it said.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald described Mr Rabbitte’s comments as “bizarre” and said they “smacked of desperation”.

One Government minister last night said, “Rabbitte’s right. Bloody RTÉ”.

More on this topic

Audit found serious deficiencies in Cavan water schemeAudit found serious deficiencies in Cavan water scheme

Leak losses unacceptable 'by any measure': water advisory bodyLeak losses unacceptable 'by any measure': water advisory body

Anger at postponement of Kilcummin sewerage schemeAnger at postponement of Kilcummin sewerage scheme

Bacteria which causes kidney failure found in 62 private water suppliesBacteria which causes kidney failure found in 62 private water supplies


Lifestyle

Sorting out Posh Cork for ages!Ask Audrey: 'I'll end up looking like a woman from Kanturk'

Cork architect Loïc Dehaye tells Eve Kelliher how he created his dream home from a blank canvas.'It was like this house was waiting for us': Cork architect talks creating his dream home

Keeping to a routine can be difficult for people in quarantine.Life on the inside: 10 ways to start your day right in lockdown

Who needs a gym when you can look in your kitchen cupboards for equipment instead?Don’t have weights for working out? These household objects will do the trick

More From The Irish Examiner