High Court to hear Green Party’s challenge to RTÉ on Thursday

Party will argue that Eamon Ryan should be included in televised leaders’ debate

The High Court has fixed Thursday to hear the Green Party's legal challenge to RTÉ.

The Green Party is taking RTÉ to the High Court over its decision to exclude it from next week's party leaders' debate.

On Thursday, the party will argue that its leader, Eamon Ryan, is entitled to be included in the televised debate.

It will argue RTÉ’s rule, that only registered political parties with three elected TDs can participate is unlawful, unfair and overly rigid. It will also argue that the rule breaches democratic values and RTÉ’s public service obligations.


The proceedings have been brought by Green Party trustee Tom Kivlehan, a former councillor with the party.

Mr Kivlehan said the case was about "democracy" and the entitlement of the Irish people to hear the views of all parties. The Green Party secured leave last Friday to serve short notice of the proceedings on RTÉ and the matter returned before Mr Justice Noonan today.

The Greens contend their party leader's exclusion will have a material and adverse effect on their prospects in the general election. They claim the leadership debate will "frame" the rest of media coverage, leading to further exclusion of the party from the national debate.

It is also argued that the Green Party has had a specific role in matters such as management of recent economic issues and climate change. They party says it is entitled to counter arguments other parties may make on those issues, failing which, the debate on these matters may be “skewed”.

Siobhan Phelan SC, for the Green Party, said she was anxious to secure a hearing this week. That hearing will be a telescoped hearing, involving an application for leave judicial review, being merged into a judicial review.

Nuala Butler SC, for RTÉ, said her side would be ready for a full hearing this week.

The Greens had complained about the party's exclusion to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission. They decided to bring proceedings after the commissioner informed Mr Ryan in a letter last week that its Compliance Committee could not deal with his concerns. The committee is limited to dealing with complaints arising from programmes already broadcast.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times