Conspiracy Theory No. #:
It was quite a surprise to hear Bertie Ahern change his mind about holding the Meath and Kildare-North by-elections on the same day as Fine Gael demanded until one realises that RTE is now seeking legal advice over screening the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis as it takes place the weekend before the by-elections.
The Irish Independent reports that “loss of live television coverage will be a major blow to the party, as the ard fheis takes place the weekend before the Meath and Kildare North by-elections.
The decision to seek legal advice arises because the by-elections are so close to the ard fheis weekend, which is from March 4 to March 6.
Senior executives in RTE have to take account of the fact that the provision of normal coverage for the ard fheis could be regarded by other candidates as conferring an unfair advantage to Sinn Fein in an election atmosphere.
One of the difficulties facing RTE is that this may be the first time there has been a clash between the timing of an ard fheis and by-election campaigns.
It is understood that Sinn Fein has already opted for an hour-long slot between 5pm and 6pm on Saturday March 5 for live coverage of the presidential address by Gerry Adams on RTE One, rather than 30 minutes between 8.30pm and 9pm.”