RTE drops An Taisce radio ad criticising Government

 

RTÉ yesterday pulled a radio advertisement by An Taisce that criticised the Government's housing and environment record.

The advertisement said the Government should have published the National Spatial Strategy before the election and accused the Opposition of not caring.

"So who is going to lose out? Anyone who wants a quality, affordable house in the right place. Greater Dublin is continuing to sprawl. Let them know. Tell them on the doorsteps," it said.

The advertisement was aired just once yesterday morning, during Morning Ireland. Last night, RTÉ sources said they had decided to stop further broadcasts before protests from the Department of the Environment and others were received, because such advertising is banned under the Broadcasting Act.

The sources said the content of the advertisement, which was received late on Friday evening, had not been properly checked before it went on air "what with the bank holiday, and all that".

The National Spatial Strategy would identify key areas outside Dublin for population growth. Once in place, the strategy will pick key areas for expansion to cope with the extra one million people that will live here within 20 years. Without it, 80 per cent of the growth would take place in Dublin, says the Government.

Yesterday the Minister for the Environment, Mr Dempsey, was questioned about the broadcast. He said he had not wanted to publish the strategy close to the election because it would have been "dragged into" the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Labour leader, Mr Ruairí Quinn, has rejected a demand from the Progressive Democrats leader, Ms Mary Harney, for a RTÉ television debate between the two.

She said the campaign "must not pass" without a debate between her and Mr Quinn.

But a Labour spokesman said: "It is a question of the relative size of the two parties. She should be debating with the Greens."