Several candidates in the Donegal North East constituency have joined forces to voice their anger and disappointment with national broadcasters. Following the snub from both Newstalk and RTE’s Drivetime show, Independents Ryan Stewart, Betty Holmes, Dessie Shiels and Ian McGarvey have all hit out at shoddy treatment from the broadcasters.
In recent debates, candidates of mainstream parties have consistently been the ‘star attraction,’ while listeners had been informed that the other candidates were ‘unable to attend,’ something which is hotly disputed by all four independents concerned.
In fact, it has emerged that none of the candidates had been contacted prior to these live radio debates. The candidates only learned about the RTE Drivetime debate, after Independent candidate Ryan Stewart had
turned on RTE Radio 1 in his car while in Inishowen. Mr. Stewart contacted other candidates to see if they had been invited and was shocked to learn that none of them had been contacted.
Ryan Stewart said, “This is further evidence of the media’s attempt to control who will win the election, and bringing their own biased political opinions to the fore. However hard they try, it’s the people in Donegal North East who will determine who will represent them at Dail Eireann, and the actions of RTE and Newstalk undermine the political process, and takes away any equal footing which should be afforded to the candidates.
“Myself and another candidate were present in the Radisson in Letterkenny when the debate went out live on air, and while the station made all efforts to support the cabal of mainstream politicians, and MacDara Blaney, listeners were told that we were unable to attend. In each of these debates, MacDara Blaney is supposedly ‘representative’ of the Independent candidates. It’s hard to find a reason why MacDara Blaney was included in the debate, other
than the fact his name is ‘Blaney’.
“These stations pontificate about cronyism, but it is clear that they are also a part of the problem. We can easily see how already Dublin politics is infiltrating Donegal. How can a candidate based in Dublin possibly know the feelings and issues on the streets of Donegal?”
Having learned of the debate, Betty Holmes said, “I was shocked but not surprised, as this is another fine example of political parties, using taxpayer’s money and airtime, to further their own political agendas. I was further angered to learn that the next piece following the debate related to the low number of female candidates in this
election, around 20%. As the only woman among ten male candidates, it only goes to show why women do not partake in politics, and I feel that as a female candidate this is further discrimination, perpetrated
by the state broadcaster.”
Ian McGarvey has also hit out, stating “It is no wonder that the country is in the state it is in when the national broadcaster suppresses the independent voice of the people. There is no point talking about national democracy, I would go as far as to say it no wonder that gerrymandering has existed in this country for so long, when the state broadcaster supports it. It’s ridiculous that someone coming in to the county from outside automatically gets national attention, and unfortunate that national broadcasters are biased towards Dublin based candidates. It is no wonder political parties get away with what has gone on, when it’s supported by the national broadcasters.
Dessie Shiels’ director of elections added, “This is blatant discrimination against candidates and smaller parties, but also against women, and I agree with the sentiments of the other candidates. I want to ask what were the criteria used to select these candiates, and express my most sincere disappointment in our national broadcasters. This is typical national radio and television in this country. We’ll show same selective criteria when they look for
interviews when the dust settles”, said Eugene Gallagher
All candidates have asked that when the people go to the polls on Friday, that people use their vote wisely, to send a message that every voice in Donegal is important, and send a message that we will no longer be marginalised by vested interests any longer.