RTÉ invites Mary Lou McDonald to participate in the final leaders’ TV debate ahead of the General Election 3 months ago

RTÉ invites Mary Lou McDonald to participate in the final leaders’ TV debate ahead of the General Election

The Sinn Féin leader will be involved after all.

RTÉ has reversed its original position and invited Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald to participate in Tuesday evening’s final leaders’ TV debate of the General Election this weekend.

RTÉ's General Election steering committee met at 11am on Monday to consider representations from Sinn Féin for Mary Lou McDonald to participate in the Prime Time leaders' debate.

Originally, the debate was scheduled to be solely between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

However, McDonald will now participate.

RTÉ has reported that Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty, who made the request to RTÉ in person on Sunday, had argued that recent opinion polls prove that the criteria used to exclude McDonald are redundant.

An opinion poll on Sunday placed Sinn Féin as joint leader with Fianna Fáil on 24 percent each, ahead of Fine Gael on 21 percent.

RTÉ had previously said its approach to leaders’ debates was based on empirical data on previous vote shares, but indicated that it was “open to evaluate representations by political parties”.

The previous statement read: “At the outset of the election RTÉ set out its approach to leaders debates based on empirical data. That has not changed. Throughout the campaign RTÉ has considered representations made by those contesting the election regarding our coverage and leaders debates. We will continue to give consideration to any representation made.”

RTÉ has also stated that the Taoiseach and Micheál Martin have no issues with the format being changed to accommodate the Sinn Féin leader.

The Labour Party has also submitted a proposal to RTÉ requesting that the leader of any party which could participate in the next government, be allowed to join the debate.

Prime Time - The Leaders Debate airs at 9.35pm on Tuesday, 4 February on RTÉ1.