RTÉ to face grilling by TDs after backlash over ditched interview with Shane Ross

Dee Forbes, director general of RTÉ

The Oireachtas Media Committee has agreed to call RTÉ director general Dee Forbes before a meeting to discuss editorial decision-making in the wake of the controversy surrounding a new book about Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

After a lengthy and tense meeting, the committee also agreed to call the Broadcasting Association of Ireland (BAI) and Virgin Media about their processes around editorial independence.

The committee debate was sparked by Government Deputy Chief Whip Brendan Griffin asking that RTÉ be called before a meeting to explain why they decided to drop an interview with former Transport Minister Shane Ross about his book Mary Lou McDonald – A Republican Riddle.

Mr Griffin’s response was faced with what committee members described as a “vicious opposition” from Sinn Féin representatives Imelda Munster and Johnny Mythen.

In robust debate during an online meeting, Ms Munster told the Fine Gael TD he “must be embarrassed” raising the controversy surrounding RTÉ and Mr Ross’s book with the committee.

Mr Griffin responded saying he had never seen “such vehement resistance” to RTÉ being called before a committee by a political party. The Kerry TD accused his Sinn Féin counterpart of trying to “protect her leader”.

He also told Ms Munster to address her questions through the chair as the committee is “not a kangaroo court” in reference to the IRA extrajudicial trials.

During the online meeting, Sinn Féin insisted on holding an in-person vote on whether RTÉ should be called before the committee to discuss their decision-making processes.

It was eventually agreed to broaden out the Mr Griffin’s request to call in the BAI and Virgin Media. Sinn Féin abstained from the final decision on the committee’s request to discuss decision-making with broadcasters and chair Niamh Smyth will now write to RTÉ, Virgin Media and the BAI asking them to attend a hearing.

It comes after Taoiseach Micheál Martin called RTÉ’s decision to pull the interview with Mr Ross as having a “chilling effect on democracy”.

More Politics

Top Stories