Tag Archives: Prime Time

Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Prime Time.

Miriam O’Callaghan asked Fine Gael TD and junior Minister for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English about large retailers having to cordon off products deemed inessential as part of the Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown rules.

Asked if it was the case that someone can buy a bottle of wine but not socks for their child, Mr English said:

“Socks come under clothes”

Previously: Games Without Frontiers

This evening.

“RTÉ is very mindful it has a duty to the public to reflect events as they unfold.

During the course of the campaign and over recent days RTÉ has taken into consideration the notable change in the dynamic of the campaign on the ground, and representation and statements by political parties.

The dynamic has also been consistently reflected in all opinion polls since the campaign commenced.

We now consider it necessary to amend our original approach, respond to the changes in the campaign, and continue to put the audience first in the making of Tuesday night’s programme.”

RTÉ statement this evening.

Mary Lou McDonald to take part in leaders’ debate (RTÉ)


David McCullagh and Miriam O’Callaghan of RTÉ’s Prime Time; Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, during the seven way RTE leaders debate

On January 14 last, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that the election would take place on Saturday, February 8, 2020.

The following day, January 15, RTÉ released a press statement announcing details of its TV election debates. It noted:

In the final days of the campaign The Prime Time Leaders Debate will see the party leaders from the two largest political parties invited to take part in a live head-to-head studio debate.”

“In approaching election coverage the RTÉ Election Steering Group has regard to objective and impartial criteria, such as the results of the last comparable election (in this instance, the General Election 2016) and the results of intervening elections, such as the 2019 Local and European elections. Other factors are also considered in RTÉ coverage of the campaign.”

This morning.

RTÉ’s Political Correspondent Paul Cunningham reports:

“RTÉ’s General Election steering committee will meet at 11am to consider representations from Sinn Féin for Mary Lou McDonald to participate in the Prime Time leaders’ debate tomorrow night.

“Under the existing plan, the debate will be between the Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

“Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who made the request to RTÉ in person yesterday, has argued that recent opinion polls prove that the criteria used to exclude Ms McDonald are redundant.”

More as we get it.


Prime Time presenter Miriam O Callaghan with, from left: Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil, Enda Kenny of Fine Gael and Eamon Gilmore of The Labour Party before a three-way leaders’ debate during the 2011 General Election

From the book Electoral Management: Institutions and Practices in an Established Democracy: The Case of Ireland by Fiona Buckley and Theresa Reidy…

In a chapter by Kevin Rafter:

Televised leaders’ debates have been a feature of Dáil elections since February 1982 with the sole exception of the 1989 election when agreement was not reached to organise a debate.

The seven debates between February 1982 and May 2007 shared several common features. In the first instance, participation was confined to the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the two largest parties, which in effect turned the encounters into ‘Prime Ministerial debates’ as holder of the office of Taoiseach (Prime Minister) have been drawn from these two parties.

In addition, there was always only one televised debate per campaign, and all these debates were hosted by RTÉ.

The nature of the leaders’s debate changed in the 2011 general election. The number of debates increased to four while the number of host broadcasters increased to three with the involvement of TV3 and the publicly owned Irish language service, TG4.

The debate on TG4 took place in the Irish language (all earlier debates were in the English language).

Finally, and undoubtedly the most important change in 2011 was an increase in the number of participating party leaders.

The leader of the Labour Party, traditionally the third largest party participated in all four debates while one of the debates was a five-way encounter involving all parties with a minimum representation in the outgoing Dáil.

Since 1988, the organisation of presidential debates in the USA has been overseen by an independent commission although they are still defined by ‘behind-the-scenes arguments about everything from the format of the questioners to the length of the response time, the placement of cameras, the height of podiums, and the location of water glasses’.

In an Irish context, these ‘debates about the debates’ involves private interaction between the main political parties and broadcasters. At the 2011 general election, each of the three broadcasters ultimately involved in broadcasting debates (RTÉ, TV3 and TG4) negotiated separately with the five main political parties. This was a different approach to the UK experience where the broadcasters ‘communicated and agree a concerted approach’.

RTÉ’s hosting of two leader debates in 2011 was preceded by eight months of informal conversations, email communication and formal face-to-face meetings.

In a post-election review, one RTÉ executive offered advice for colleagues involved in future debate negotiations:

“…avoid getting drawn into lengthy discussions on formats or rules and regulations – we make the TV, they provide the candidates – and at no stage did we get drawn into the sorts of intricate rules which were a feature of the UK debates.”

...The importance of being impartial and fair, and being seen to be so, was a central feature of RTÉ’s approach to election coverage in 2011.

Indeed, at the final internal SC [steering committee] meeting before polling day it was noted ‘with satisfaction that RTÉ’s coverage hadn’t featured as an election story and this was very welcome as an indication that we were providing extensive, accurate and fair coverage’.

There you go now.

RTÉ committee to meet over Sinn Féin participation in election debate (RTÉ)

Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Prime Time.

Miriam O’Callaghan hosted a near 25-minute debate on housing and homelessness with People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett, Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Bróin, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, and Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien.

The politicians discussed their policies while Ms O’Callaghan had the following exchange with the minister after she recalled how a homeless man suffered life-changing injuries while the tent within which he was sleeping was removed by from along the Grand Canal near Leeson Street Bridge in Dublin last Tuesday…

Eoghan Murphy: “We took over the housing brief in 2016 and we’ve doubled the number of homes built. Now that’s not enough but we’re going to double it again if we’re elected to Government.”

Miriam O’Callaghan: “Just to go back to that homeless man at the canal. I mean your leader’s instinct was first to look for a statement from a Fianna Fáil politician.”

Murphy: “Leo Varadkar’s first instinct was shock and anger and then he was upset about it. And I know this because I work with him. And he expressed sympathy when he was first asked about it. But the best way to help that individual, and other individuals, is actually not the route to emergency accommodation, it’s the route to a home.

“And that’s Housing First. People talk about how they’ve solved homelessness in Finland and some large cities. It’s that Housing First model.

“You build homes for single individuals, you take them from emergency, from the streets, into the home and you wrap the care and supports around them. And we’ve introduced that and we’ve helped more than 300 people…”

O’Callaghan: “But by any measure I suppose, in 2016, young people weren’t able to buy their own homes, rents were escalating, thousands were falling into homelessness. Four years on, that situation is exactly, more or less, the same.”

By any measure you have failed.”

Murphy: “Well since that period, we’ve been able to help 11,000 people out of homelessness. It’s not enough but those people are in homes now because of the supports that we gave. And what we did start, when we took over the housing brief, was we did focus in, not just on building more private homes, but social homes as well.

“So, in 2016, I think it was less than 1,000 social houses were built. I mean actually new homes built. Last year it was more than 6,000…”


During the programme…

Architect Orla Hegarty tweeted:

“Social housing ‘delivered’ in recent years, significant amounts purchased and leased (Research: Killian Woods, of the Business Post)”



Yesterday: ‘It’s Not Possible To Make Housing More Affordable By Just Increasing Supply’

Watch Prime Time back in full here

David McCullagh and Miriam O’Callaghan of RTÉ’s Prime Time

This morning.

RTÉ announced that it will broadcast two live television debates as part of its general election coverage. The dates have yet to be announced.

The Claire Byrne Live Leaders’ Debate will involve “leaders from a number of political parties” to debate in front of a live audience.

Secondly, in “the final days of the campaign”, Prime Time will hold a leaders’ debate which will involve “the party leaders from the two largest political parties” taking part in “a live head-to-head studio debate”.

Morning Ireland broadcaster, and former Six One presenter, Bryan Dobson will also hold a series of interviews with party leaders at 7pm on RTÉ One throughout the campaign.


On Virgin Media One…

Thanks Laura Fitzgerald

According to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the RTÉ 1 Prime Time discussion on trans issues featuring Graham Linehan “was treated fairly”

The first complaint, which was made by Irish Times columnist Roe McDermott, stated that the Prime Time episode was “not objective, based on the mix of contributors and how the discussion was framed”….

The second complaint argued that the programme had portrayed a clear link between transgender people and people on the autism spectrum, and was therefore unfair and offensive. …

The Compliance Committee also rejected the third complaint, in which the complainant argued that the inclusion of UK anti-transgender activists had been against the appropriate standard of due care by the broadcaster.

Complaints on RTÉ’s Prime Time transgender episode featuring Graham Linehan rejected (GCN)

Pic: RTÉ

Last night.

RTÉ One broadcast its final live debate with MEP candidates – this time with candidates from the Midlands-North-West constituency.

Taking part in the debate were Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh, Independent candidate Peter Casey, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness, Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith, Solidarity–People Before Profit candidate Cyril Brennan, and Independent MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

At one point, Ms McHugh, 28, from Achill Island, responded to comments about migration made by millionaire businessman Mr Casey, 61, saying:

“Millionaires blaming migrants is an old trope and it’s boring.

“There’s real repercussions to this absolute nonsense.

“Go on Dancing With The Stars if you want attention.”

In fairness.

Watch back the debate in full here (when it’s uploaded).

Green Party’s Saoirse McHugh tells Peter Casey ‘to go on Dancing With The Stars if you want attention’ on RTE Prime Time debate (Lauren Kelly, The Irish Sun)



MEP candidates for Ireland South, RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan and Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace on Prime Time debate last night

Last night.

RTÉ One’s Prime Time broadcast the first of its three European election debates.

Last night’s concerned the Ireland South constituency with nine of the 23 candidates taking part – including Wexford Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace.

During the debate, journalist Miriam O’Callaghan had the following exchange with Mr Wallace about his financial affairs.

Miriam O’Callaghan: “Mick Wallace, you portray yourself always as very much a man of the people.

“But, in fact, you’ve had tens of millions of euro debts wiped out. You’ve been fined for not paying your construction workers pension contributions on time.

“You knowingly made false declarations on VAT. I mean, are you the sort of person that the voters of Ireland South should send to Europe to represent them?”

Mick Wallace: “Well first of all. Your presentation of the pension thing is a bit inaccurate.”

O’Callaghan: “How?”

Wallace: “Well. There was a dispute with the pension board at the time. We paid all our pensions, every bit of it. And we actually paid more…”

O’Callaghan: “You were fined, I think, €7,000…”

Wallace: “We were fined because we had a row with the pension board because they made us pay for six workers that went back to Eastern Europe six months earlier and they thought we should pay for them after we had released them from their work.

“And that was the only reason that we were in the court despite the fact that the media presented it very differently.”

O’Callaghan: “OK, but the general point, I’m making in terms, I suppose, about tens of millions of euro being wiped out and the VAT issue.”

Wallace: “Well, first of all, with regard to the VAT issue, which has happened over ten years ago, and I’d say it’s probably the most discussed VAT issue in the history of the planet but we owed €1.4million in VAT, we didn’t get it because the money for the sale of the apartments went to the solicitor, who was obliged to give it to the bank.

“And normally the bank will give it to you to give to the Revenue. They wouldn’t give it to us because all the apartments weren’t sold.

“We actually never got it into our hands to give it to the Revenue.

“On the other issue, you’re talking about tens of millions being wiped out, right?”

O’Callaghan: “But did you knowingly make a false declaration on VAT?”

Wallace: “Yes, we did, yeah. And listen, and my biggest crime at the time was being straight about it, right, because we wanted to try, we were employing, at one stage, over 200 people.

“We wanted to keep the business going. And the idea that one would not pay their full VAT, on a particular date and pay it later, is not unusual in business.”

O’Callaghan: “OK, what about Cerberus? I mean you spent a lot of time giving out about it in the Dáil. But you rarely have ever said, and in fact you owe them millions.”

Wallace: “Who? Cerberus?”

O’Callaghan: “Yeah.”

Wallace: “I don’t owe Cerberus anything.”


O’Callaghan: “Didn’t…I thought they made you bankrupt?”

Wallace: “They did yeah but I don’t owe them anything. I don’t owe Cerberus anything. Cerberus, listen, let me be clear. Let me clarify it right.

“I was dealing with four banks – three of which were foreign, right? So I didn’t go into Nama. And when you talk about tens of millions of debt right…”

O’Callaghan: “But Mick you know, they made you bankrupt on the basis that you owed them two million.”

Wallace: “Two million? I didn’t even owe it to them. Right. There was a security of €2million put on a building in Inchicore which had absolutely nothing to do with them. They actually went into court and told three lies on an affidavit and unfortunately the judge was obliged to believe them.”

O’Callaghan: “OK but I suppose Mick we can’t be saying that people told lies. They’re not here…”

Wallace: “I can say, I can say it very clearly. And the only reason that Cerberus bankrupted me was because of the fact that I exposed the fact that they paid a €15million bribe to get Project Eagle.”

O’Callaghan: “But I suppose it was [former Fine Gael Finance Minister] Michael Noonan’s point that maybe you had a feud with them but that you didn’t enough come clean on admitting your relationship with them. It’s about transparency.”

Wallace: “I had no relations with Cerberus. And when Cerberus, when I raised the issue about Cerberus, right? Cerberus had nothing to do with my business. They bought one property from Ulster Bank which happened, I had, believe it or not, I had 39 properties with Ulster Bank and Ulster Bank asked me to work with them to sell them and one fell through the net and they didn’t sell it.

“And they threw it into Promontoria Ireland which Cerberus bought. That has nothing, that was after…”

O’Callaghan: “I suppose it was a simple point Michael Noonan, former minister for finance made, which was that maybe you should have declared your interest in relation to Cerberus…”

Wallace: “I didn’t have an interest with them then. Cerberus didn’t come on the scene until later.”


Wallace: “That’s totally disingenuous.”

O’Callaghan: “Well then the minister is wrong?”

Wallace: “A hundred per cent. And that wasn’t the only thing he was wrong on.”

Watch back in full here

Ireland South candidates take part in TV debate (RTE)

Previously: Project Eagle And The €3.5 Billion Haircut (Broadsheet, July 2, 2015)

‘I Can’t For The Life Of Me Understand Why No One Gives A Bollox’ (Broadsheet, November 7, 2018)

Related: Mick Wallace’s bankruptcy latest chapter in Cerberus feud (The Irish Times, December 2016)

Noonan challenges Mick Wallace to ‘declare interest’ on Cerberus (The Irish Times, February 28, 2017)


Master of the High Court Ed Honohan with David McCullagh on last night’s Prime Time on RTÉ One

Last night.

At the end of RTÉ One’s Prime Time.

Journalist David McCullagh briefly interviewed the Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan.

It followed the decision of the President of the High Court Peter Kelly to remove all debt cases from Mr Honohan.

From the interview…

David McCullagh: “When did you hear about this decision?”

Edmund Honohan: “A reporter rang me. I haven’t officially been told anything by anybody. Nobody has contacted me officially from the president’s office or any other official source.”

McCullagh: “There is a statement up on the website I suppose but you haven’t been directly approached.”

Honohan: “I haven’t been approached. I haven’t had any explanation offered to me.”

McCullagh: “Ok. How do you think you’ve performed in handling these particular cases?”

Honohan: “Extremely well.”

McCullagh: “Well, you would say that I suppose wouldn’t you?”

Honohan: “Yeah. Well, I’ve been there now for in excess of 15 years. I think you have to go back a little bit. A previous master, Patrick Lindsay, Paddy Lindsay, a Fine Gael TD and Minister at the time, he wrote in his autobiography, I brought it in for you here and it’s quite interesting. He said, when I took up the position, he says,

Any day that I worked after lunchtime as a Master [of the High Court] was rare,’ he said. ‘I go through things fast, I attributed the speed with which I was able to turn over an awful lot of work to the honesty and integrity of people appearing before me. There were very few people, I can think of only one, whose word I could not take. And generally, if asked, ‘are your proofs in order?’, or ‘are your papers in order?’ and the answer was yes, then you knew, you could believe what you were told.’

“In other words, he wasn’t reading the papers. Now, I read the papers and I find a surprising number of errors. And my function is to arrange those papers so that they’re in order for a fair hearing downstairs [before the High Court]. And if I find a mistake, I can invite the plaintiff to correct the mistake and if he declines to correct the mistake, then the papers are not in order, and I strike out the summons. Now this may be a source of difficulty, there’s no difficulty about it because that decision can be appealed.

“The real problem seems to be that there’s a perception that if I strike out the summons, that I’m acting in some kind of quasi-judicial manner, I’m not. I’m pointing out that there’s an error in the paperwork, it’s not ready to go on. And I have a duty, under the 2003 Act, to ensure that the hearing which transpires later on, downstairs is a fair hearing for both sides.”

“Now, just because people might not be that familiar with the legal system. You’re not a judge. It’s a quasi-judicial function. But it’s an administrative thing, to make sure that all the ducks are lined up in a row.”

Honohan: “That’s it yes. You’d often have very, very silly mistakes like affidavits of service not being before the court or affidavits which don’t state the means of knowledge of the deponent. But it’s becoming more and more difficult actually, in relation to the probative value of evidence.

We have Supreme Court decisions now which are of great assistance to the courts which are not actually being read by the practitioners. And they’re not actually being filtered through to the High Court so if I pick up a case and I find there’s a mistake, which causes me to draw attention of the practitioners to the new decisions that are coming forward from the Supreme Court – I point this out. And boy there are plaintiffs who do not like it.

They’re the plaintiffs who are churning out papers on a factory basis and if I say ‘oh, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to adjourn this, they’ll say ‘why?’. Then I’ll say, ‘I’m going to strike out the motion because the papers are not in order’, they’ll say ‘we’ll appeal that’. This is not a difficulty, it is in fact the way the job should be done. Because the papers should be in order.

Otherwise you do not have the opportunity for both sides to effectively participate.

Now I’m dealing with a lot of lay litigants. I don’t know if you understand the concept of ineffective participation – that’s when you’re there in court and you don’t know what’s going on. It’s my job to try and spoon feed these people, to enable them to get to grips with the process that’s before the court.”

McCullagh: “OK, now as you say, you don’t know why this particular decision has been taken. But it’s fair to say that you have been vocal, you have been perhaps controversial. A lot of people would know that you’ve spoken up in favour of people who’re facing repossession and so on…”

[Honohan nods in agreement]

McCullagh: “Would some people wonder whether you’re impartiality might be in question?”

Honohan: “No, no, I can’t imagine how? Because a level-playing pitch in the courts is what the objective is. And there’s no way that I’m making a judgement which is actually impacting on the actual strict legal rights of either party. I’m simply making sure that both parties are ready and prepared to deal with the case when it comes on before the court.”

McCullagh: “You also, famously, recently brought a hammer into your courtroom to break a window because the room was too stuffy?”

Honohan: “Yes..I’m sure that’s not the reason for the change…”

McCullagh: “Well, your room will presumably be less busy now if these cases are…”

Honohan: “Those windows have been fixed actually, so I’m delighted with that.”

McCullagh: “Ok. Edmund Honohan, thank you very much indeed for joining us.”

Watch back in full here from 29.32

Related: Removing Ed

Yesterday: Here Comes The Pane

Last night.

Demonstrators protesting outside RTÉ studios during the broadcast of a ‘Prime Time’ special on the “exponential growth in the number of young people seeking to change gender, and the implications of the proposed new law allowing them to do so without their parents’ consent” featuring an interview with the writer Graham Linehan (above).

Watch back here

Yesterday: ‘Hurting The People It Was Invented To Protect’

Top pic: GCN


From top: Prime Time logo; tweet from last night; Barrister Paul Anthony McDermott

before the jury was brought into court, Mr Grehan raised a segment from last night’s Prime Time programme with the judge.

He explained that, following a report on the recent Kerry murder trial, there was a general discussion about the law of provocation between the presenter and a well-known senior counsel, lecturer, author and media commentator.

The defence team then played the segment for the court on the RTE Player.

“I’m not saying there can never be media, academic or legal discussion in relation to a defence or its merits,” said Mr Grehan afterwards.

But we are, in this trial, at a particularly sensitive time where a jury is deliberating.”

Murder trial collapses after jurors reveal they watched Prime Time programme last night (Irish Examiner)

Last week: During Deliberations