Government orders RTÉ not to allow Provisional Sinn Féin a party political broadcast in the run-up to the General Election.
RTÉ had received legal advice that the rules of Section 31 did not cover party political broadcasts. Section 31, first introduced in 1971, bans radio or television interviews with spokesmen for Provisional Sinn Féin and other named organisations. Provisional Sinn Féin had decided to run seven candidates in the General Election, the minimum number required to qualify for a party political broadcast. As such, RTÉ offered Provisional Sinn Féin one party political broadcast on television and radio for two minutes. However, at a cabinet meeting, it was decided to extend the scope of Section 31 to cover party political broadcasts.
The order excludes all broadcasts by or on behalf of Provisional Sinn Féin.
The government statement says that
Such prohibitions must remain in force until such time as Provisional Sinn Féin formally and publically renounces violence and arranges for its terrorist wing to surrender its weapons, explosives and other implements of murder and destruction.
Daithí O'Connell, Sinn Féin's Director of Elections said that the party learnt with dismay of the government's decision and was consulting with senior council with a view to taking court action. He described the decision as,
A gross abuse of democratic and electoral practices and the people would now realise that the government was scared stiff of republican policies and views being expressed on RTÉ.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 February 1982. The reporter is Donal Kelly and the newsreader is Don Cockburn.