Fianna Fáil boycott of RTÉ's 'Frontline' proposed

Wed, Oct 20, 2010, 01:00

A FIANNA Fáil boycott of broadcaster Pat Kenny’s Frontlinewas proposed at last night’s meeting of the parliamentary party.

Limerick West TD Niall Collins said Fianna Fáil guests were treated as “the entertainment” when they appeared on the RTÉ One programme.

“I questioned whether we should have a policy of putting anybody on The Frontline. The view that I take is the programme is constructed as an entertainment programme, not a current affairs programme, and the Fianna Fáil representative becomes the entertainment,” Mr Collins said.

He said while some opposed his boycott proposal, many other TDs and Senators were critical of RTÉ. “Basically the whole room was saying they are not giving balanced coverage,” Mr Collins said.

Minister of State for Europe Dick Roche, Kildare South TD Seán Ó Fearghail, Dublin North Deputy Michael Kennedy and Johnny Brady of Meath West were also among those reportedly expressing criticisms last night.

“Generally the feeling was The Frontline was a bit like Joe Duffy with pictures. Seán Ó Fearghail said they were actually depressing people and were so negative. It wasn’t about politics, it was about the national psyche,” one deputy, speaking on the basis of anonymity, said.

It was suggested the Government should continue to pay for “free” television licences for citizens who qualify for them, but the money should not go to RTÉ.

Meanwhile, Dr Alan Ahearne, advisor to Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, gave a highly praised presentation on the economy to the meeting. Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Mr Lenihan were both in attendance.

Senator Denis O’Donovan, who has been without the party whip since June, was welcomed back into the parliamentary party. Mr O’Donovan, from Bantry in Co Cork, had been punished for abstaining in a Seanad vote on the Dog Breeding Establishment Bill.

There was also some praise for Mr Cowen’s recent media performances.