Irish populists have been "excluded" from televised debates before the upcoming European elections, candidates running in the country have claimed. (EPA-EFE/Aidan Crawley)

News Vote 24

Irish populists ‘excluded’ from European election TV debates


Irish populists have been “excluded” from televised debates before the upcoming European Parliament elections, candidates running in the country have claimed.

Despite polls suggesting that a number of anti-mass migration candidates — including those with new party Independent Ireland — are in the running to be elected, neither the private Virgin Media Television nor publicly funded RTÉ have been willing to let populists on the airwaves.

This has provoked outrage from several senior candidates from across the country, who have accused Ireland’s media of acting in an unfair manner.

“What’s happening in Ireland is the social contract has broken down between the mainstream media and politics, and the people,” Independent Ireland’s Niall Boylan, who is running in the Dublin constituency, told Brussels Signal.

Boylan added that the media’s refusal to invite him to televised debates is despite his campaign going well, with the candidate citing internal polling that shows he is “in third place in a four-horse race, and most definitely in contention for a seat”.

Such a claim appears to be backed up by public polling.

“The fact that we are excluded from the debates is fundamentally undemocratic and wrong,” he added.

“Voters are angry, nobody is listening to them, and the mainstream media are blocking us from talking to a wider audience about the issues that matter to them, the good thing is, like our recent referendums which were a catastrophic result for the government, once again the voters will have their say on June 7, and we fully believe that the government are in for a shock.”

Another popular candidate in Dublin, independent Malachy Steenson, told Brussels Signal that he and his fellow populists had been refused invitations despite looking set to out-poll more mainstream politicians.

“Our taxpayer-funded broadcaster is refusing to invite myself and other candidates to the live election debate, even though some of those invited will certainly poll lower than us,” he said.

Steenson went on to describe the scandal as “another example of the brazen cronyism in Ireland”, calling the island “the most corrupt little country in the Western World”.

“If elected to Europe I’ll cut the cronyism connection between the corrupt establishments in Dublin and Brussels, making both more accountable to their voters Europe-wide.”

So far, two major televised debates have taken place between Ireland’s European Parliament election hopefuls, both of which were plagued by gaffes.

During the first debate for candidates running in Dublin, incumbent Green Party MEP, Ciarán Cuffe, encountered ridicule while trying to defend EU support for Ukraine.

When pressured on the issue by war-sceptic MEP Clare Daly, who suggested that Europe should back calls for peace, Cuffe suggested that she would not be so keen on peace talks if Ireland was invaded.

“If three counties of Ireland were taken over by an occupying country would we say ‘that’s grand [okay]’?” he asked the panel.

His interlocutors responded with outrage, noting that six of the island’s 32 counties were surrendered to the United Kingdom in exchange for the country gaining independence, all of which remain outside the control of the Irish state to this day.

A debate between candidates within the Midlands North West constituency also descended into chaos, with the poor polling Saoirse McHugh calling her right-wing opponent, Peter Casey, a “clown” after he interrupted her.

He later left the stage over an alleged microphone issue.

Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh, a member of the European People’s Party, opted to voice support for the re-election of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, despite the senior Eurocrat’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict causing outrage in Ireland.