Donegal TD and Sinn Féin Director of Elections Pearse Doherty is again calling on RTE and Virgin Media to reverse their decision to exclude Mary Lou McDonald from their Leaders Debates.
Both TV networks have scheduled showdowns between Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin in the coming weeks.
However, Pearse Doherty said the decision ‘flies in the face of fairness’ when new opinion polls are taken into account.
The latest Irish Times IPSOS/MRBI poll shows that Fine Gael has dropped six points to 23 per cent, Fianna Fail sits at 25 per cent and Sinn Féin has jumped by seven points to 21 per cent.
Pearse Doherty said these results show that Sinn Féin should not be excluded from the leaders debates.
He said: “There are clearly three large parties contesting this election and it would fly in the face of fairness and impartiality to exclude Mary Lou McDonald from these debates.
“With Fianna Fáil facilitating Fine Gael in government for the last four years it has been Sinn Féin that has been the major voice of opposition.
“Both RTÉ and Virgin Media must reverse their decision to exclude Sinn Féin from their major set piece debates.”
The Donegal TD has written to Virgin Media objecting to the first head-to-head debate between the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael leaders set to take place this Wednesday.
He said: “I believe that facilitating a debate in the manner proposed is capable of affecting the outcome of the election by presenting the electorate with a false, binary choice between two parties with virtually the same policies.
“BAI rules acknowledge that broadcasters have a statutory obligation to ensure that all news and current affairs programming is fair, objective and impartial.
“How Virgin Media can justify excluding Sinn Féin and the people we represent from this debate is beyond me.
“I am calling on Virgin Media to make public the criteria applied in reaching this decision.
“They should reverse this decision immediately and have a debate that’s actually representative of Irish society,” Doherty concluded.