Mother claims she was 'uninvited' from Election debate; RTE says no one uninvited
By Claire Anderson
Update Monday, Feb 22: RTE have said no audience member was "uninvited" from last night's pre-Election debate at Facebook's Dublin headquarters.
The broadcaster was responding to claims on social media last night that a mother who had submitted a question to be put to the Election candidates had been "uninvited" from the event.
In a statement, RTE said: "RTÉ did not univite any audience members from last night's RTÉ2 Facebook Election Special.
"In the lead-up to the broadcast, RTÉ2 asked the public to submit questions they would like to put to politicians during the programme. We received hundreds of questions and based on these we selected topics that generated the biggest volume in order to represent the majority of contributors.
"Some individuals who contacted RTÉ's production team to apply to be in the audience and ask questions were advised that their particular topic was not among the final topics which the team hoped to cover within the limited time of the live broadcast but they were still welcome to be part of the audience.
"…Nobody was uninvited to attend."
It has been alleged that RTÉ uninvited at least one audience member from tonight's election special at Facebook's Dublin headquarters.
One mother posted a message to Facebook to say: "Today I received a communication from RTÉ to say that they will now NOT be covering special needs on the programme. I also discovered that the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar is due to be part of the panel. And that several other people also due to ask questions related to waiting times and other health issues have been uninvited."
RTÉ's alleged decision to not cover special needs issues in the programme has sparked the use of the hashtag #cherishingallchildren on Twitter, where parents and others are sharing the issues that they feel need to be addressed.
Waiting lists are a recurring topic.
This was one mother's question before she says she was uninvited:
"It is well established that best practice for children with special needs is early intervention. And yet current legislation allows services to be curtailed where financial cost is an issue.
"This has meant that it is legally acceptable for the thousands of children with special needs to be waiting between 6 and 24 months to access vital intervention services such as psychology, speech and language and occupational therapy.
"Some, including my son, are not even on any waiting list as there is no child psychologist in our area.
"Waiting lists to see developmental paediatricians are in some cases over 18 months long. Governments to date know that those parents who can afford it will simply go private.
"The children are not automatically entitled to a medical card and Government had made it increasingly harder for families to claim Domiciliary Care Allowance, a payment used by many families to fund the cost of private services.
"What would the candidates do to help reduce waiting times and costs for children with special needs and their families?"