Independent Senator Rónán Mullen has called for the establishment of a working group which could examine cases of bias in the media and consider apportioning sanctions.

During statements on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment in the Seanad, Senator Mullen said significant institutional bias still exists in public service broadcasting.

He asked Minister for Communications Denis Naughten "who could deny the media was a significant player in the way last year's referendum was organised?"  

He also asked who could deny if this was not the case on the issue of abortion and said people in RTÉ will tell you privately that they are "amazed" at the "group think" on the issue.

Senator Mullen said in a parish near him, RTÉ had nearly destroyed the life and career of a man and there was reason to believe that prejudice against faith and the faith community contributed to the way that problem unfolded.  

"Whether that is true or not, there were promises at the time of new standards in relation to fairness and balance.

"I would say it remains the case that significant institutional bias exists in broadcasting media in particular and the one I am most concerned about is publicly funded media".

Senator Mullen also questioned whether there should be sanctions against a journalist -  with a taxpayer-funded contract worth hundreds of thousands of euro  -  who regards it as perk of his job that he can take a sycophantic approach to someone who shares his point of view on an issue such as abortion, and engage in persistent, selective and hostile questions on those who oppose his view.

He asked if a finding is made against that journalist by the BAI, once or twice or three times, can anything really be done?

Senator Mullen called for a body with teeth, so that when people make a complaint, they do not feel like they are "pissing against the wind".

"We do have a problem when the Mick Wallaces of this world can propose unconstitutional legislation and escape any kind of significant critique while others fear to speak their opinion even in this House because of the construction that would be placed on their remarks".

He also asked if RTÉ should be sitting on a highly valuable land bank, if one way of saving revenue would be its eventual relocation.