Green Party in court bid for leader debate rights

The Green Party has launched a High Court challenge against RTÉ over its failure to include the party’s leader, Eamon Ryan, in a party leaders’ debate to be broadcast on February 15.

Green Party in court bid for leader debate rights

The proceedings have been brought by Green Party trustee Tom Kivlehan, a former councillor with the party, who said the case was about “democracy” and the entitlement of the Irish people to hear the views of all parties.

Mr Ryan said the Greens are entitled to be represented in the leaders’ debate and RTÉ’s decision that only registered political parties with three elected TDs could participate is unlawful, unfair, and breaches democratic values.

RTÉ is failing to honour its public service obligations, he said. There is no legal basis for RTÉ’s criteria and its decision fails to take into account that the Green Party has a similar level of support to some of the other parties taking part in the debate, three of which did not exist five years ago, Mr Ryan added.

Mr Kivlehan and Mr Ryan were speaking outside the High Court yesterday after their counsel, Vincent P Martin BL, secured permission from Mr Justice Kevin Cross to serve short notice of the judicial review proceedings on RTÉ.

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Mr Martin said the case was one of “extreme urgency”. Mr Justice Cross directed the proceedings could be served on RTÉ at short notice. The case will come back before the High Court on Monday.

The Greens had complained about the party’s exclusion to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and decided to bring proceedings after the commission informed Mr Ryan in a letter on Thursday that its compliance committee could not deal with his concerns as it was limited to considering complaints arising from programmes already broadcast.

The committee took the view that it was never intended it would have some sort of supervisory or interventionist role in respect of programmes yet to be broadcast, Mr Ryan was informed.

In the proceeings, Mr Kivlehan seeks declarations including that the exclusion of the Green Party leaderdisproportionately interferes with the democratic process.

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