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Shane Ross says RTE ‘frightened’ of Sinn Fein after interview on his Mary Lou McDonald book dropped

Micheál Martin called for “explanation” from RTÉ over the decision not to broadcast an interview with Mr Ross about his book on the party’s leader

'Mary Lou McDonald: A Republican Riddle' by Shane Ross
‘Mary Lou McDonald: A Republican Riddle’ by Shane Ross
Shane Ross, author of 'Mary Lou: A Republican Riddle'. Photo: Mark Condren
Shane Ross, author of ‘Mary Lou: A Republican Riddle’. Photo: Mark Condren
Shane Ross has written a book about Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald
Shane Ross has written a book about Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

12th October 2022

Shane Ross has claimed that RTE is “frightened” of offending Sinn Féin after the State broadcaster decided not to broadcast an interview about his book on Mary Lou McDonald.

He was speaking after Micheál Martin called for “greater transparency and explanation” from RTÉ over the decision not to broadcast an interview with Mr Ross about his book on the party’s leader.

Mr Ross told Newstalk Breakfast the broadcaster got itself “in a knot” over it.

“They said they wanted to give Sinn Féin a right of reply – once the interview had been done and recorded they wanted to give them a right of reply – and then access to sections of the book which was referred to.

“That is most unusual; now RTÉ came out last night and said, ‘we never gave them the transcript of the interview at all’, and Sinn Féin came out and said they never asked for it.

“No they didn’t, because RTÉ pulled the interview before that; but they had set the process in train for giving them the transcripts of the interview, or certainly for giving them those bits of the interview, which was relevant to them, [which] is quite unprecedented.”

He claimed the broadcaster pulled the interview after having it looked at legally but “because it didn’t match their editorial guidelines, which had never been mentioned before”.

Mr Ross also said the broadcaster had refused to send him a transcript of the interview.

“I think it was just too much for them, I think they got themselves in a total and utter knot. They decided they were frightened of offending Sinn Féin, there’s no doubt.

“The interview was certainly interfered with and things were excluded, which weren’t excluded in any other interview,” he added.

“Why is RTÉ the only one that first of all needs a week to listen to it, and then has to put down strict conditions – it’s got a special fear there, I presume, of Sinn Féin,” he added.

'Mary Lou McDonald: A Republican Riddle' by Shane Ross
‘Mary Lou McDonald: A Republican Riddle’ by Shane Ross

He said he believes RTÉ should appear before an Oireachtas committee to answer questions on this issue.

In a statement, RTÉ said: “In this instance, the decision not to broadcast was an editorial decision and was not influenced by any legal issues.

“RTÉ can also confirm that no one was given access to the recorded interview.”

“Broadcasters have editorial independence to decide what they cover and broadcast. That is a principle the BAI acknowledge.

With many competing stories and items each day, it is not unusual for a pre-recorded interview not to be broadcast,” it added.

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