Aontú could go to court over debate exclusion

Aontú has raised its threats to disrupt a planned seven-way leaders TV debate tonight, the first between the leading parties as the election campaign reaches its midpoint.

Aontú could go to court over debate exclusion

Aontú has raised its threats to disrupt a planned seven-way leaders TV debate tonight, the first between the leading parties as the election campaign reaches its midpoint.

Party leader Peadar Tóibín last night said High Court legal action remained a live option after RTÉ’s refusal to allow him participate in the election event in Galway.

“It makes no sense to exclude one of the eight parties with Dáil representation from the debate,” said the former Sinn Féin TD.

“The recent EU elections saw RTÉ facilitate debates with eight and nine candidates. The bar for inclusion in those debates was that the party had at least one TD elected to the Dáil.”

Aontú said it could go to the courts early today to seek an injunction as it is the only national party not included.

RTÉ said it had replied to the party’s concerns and that a steering committee agreed terms for its election debates.

However, Mr Tóibín claims his party, while only having one TD in the outgoing Dáil, had a higher vote than the Social Democrats and People Before Profit in the recent by-elections as well as the latter in the local elections.

Sinn Féin have also said i is considering legal action to force RTÉ to let its leader Mary Lou McDonald take part in a TV debate between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin next week.

Data courtesy of The Irish Times

Her party has been boosted in a Red C poll giving it 19% support, against 23% for Fine Gael.

Ahead of tonight’s debate, Mr Varadkar will meet EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier for talks in Dublin, days before the UK’s exit from the EU. The two will discuss the next phase of Brexit talks and the future between the EU and the UK, including trade.

Mr Varadkar will also emphasise the negotiations should ensure no trade quotas, no tariffs and a level playing field between Ireland, the EU and the UK.

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