RTÉ and Green trustee must each pay own costs

RTÉ and Green Party trustee Tom Kivlehan must each pay their own costs of his failed challenge to the broadcaster’s exclusion of Green Party leader Eamon Ryan from a televised party leaders debate during the general election, a High Court judge has ruled.

RTÉ and Green trustee must each pay own costs

The case raised important issues relating to the “singular and unique” role of the media under the Constitution in educating and informing the public in the democratic process, Ms Justice Marie Baker said.

The case arose after Eamon Ryan was not invited to participate in a debate, broadcast on RTÉ One on February 15, because the Green Party did not meet a requirement set by RTÉ for participation in such debates of having three TDs in the outgoing Dáil.

Just hours before the debate, Ms Justice Baker, there was nothing unfair, irrational or disproportionate about the three TDs criterion.

Ms Justice Baker said yesterday, while Mr Kivhelan had lost his case, it did raise a point of “novel and constitutional” importance concerning the democratic process.

A factor in considering liability for costs was Article 40.6.1 of the Constitution, little explored in previous cases, which describes the media as an organ of public opinion and identifies the education of public opinion is in the common good.

The constitutional provision did impose a positive obligation on a public sevice broadcaster to produce programmes to inform and educate, she said.

Implicit in her judgment on this case was a conclusion as to the “degree of singularity” that public service and other media have in the education of the public and the democratic process.

The judge added it would be unfair to give Mr Kivlehan some portion of his costs against RTÉ.

He took this case as a trustee and member of the Green Party and as a general election candidate, she said. She did not consider he brought it as a citizen other than in his capacity as a trustee.

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