RTÉ to seek costs after Green Party debate challenge

Wednesday 24 February 2016 23.45
Seven-way leaders' debate took place in Limerick on 15 February
Seven-way leaders' debate took place in Limerick on 15 February

The High Court will rule next week on the issue of costs in the recent action taken by the Green Party against RTÉ over its exclusion from the televised leaders' debate.

The court was told that RTÉ will look for its costs against the Green Party trustee, Tom Kivlehan, who took the case.

The debate, broadcast on 15 February, featured seven leaders from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats and Renua.

Last week Ms Justice Marie Baker dismissed arguments by the Green Party that RTÉ's rule that only parties with three TDs in the outgoing Dáil could be invited to participate was undemocratic and unconstitutional and in breach of RTÉ's obligations a public service broadcaster.

The judge found RTÉ's criteria were "sufficiently reasonable and impartial", and proportionate to the needs of the political debate and the public's right to be informed and educated in an engaging live programme.

When the costs issue came before the court, counsel for RTÉ Nuala Butler said it was seeking its costs and wanted the normal rule to apply, that costs go to the winning side.

Lawyers for the Greens said they would argue the case raised issues of public importance and the normal rule should not apply.

The judge said she would hear arguments on the costs issue on Wednesday 2 March.