RTÉ has faced an online backlash over plans to broadcast the Claire Byrne Live show from outside the Mater Hospital in Dublin tonight.
ianna Fáil TD and Oireachtas Media Committee chairperson Niamh Smyth has urged RTÉ to reconsider the plan.
She claimed it is “not appropriate and flies in the face of all public health advice to stay home” as cases of Covid-19 continue to surge.
Labour TDs Ged Nash and Duncan Smith also criticised the planned broadcast.
Mr Nash claimed: “This is all kinds of wrong” and Mr Smith said: “This should not happen”.
Ms Byrne said today that the broadcast is taking place with the “full cooperation” of the Mater Hospital.
She told listeners to her radio show that the special programme will “highlight and give us all an insight into what this latest Covid crisis really means on the ground.”
Ms Byrne added: “We’re going to hear from a range of frontline workers as part of the programme all about their work and what they’re doing and why we all need to follow the public health guidelines.”
RTÉ got a barrage of negative responses when the Claire Byrne Live Twitter account announced the plans last night.
The post said: “We’ll be broadcasting live from outside Dublin’s Mater Hospital tomorrow.
“As the crisis worsens, Claire will hear from doctors, nurses, porters and other heroes on the Covid frontline.”
It also asked: “Have you been in the Mater recently with Covid, or had a relative there?” and sought direct messages or replies.
Some Twitter users that responded claimed the planned broadcast was “totally unnecessary”, a “bad idea” and “tone deaf” while some said that the broadcaster should stay away from a busy hospital dealing with the pandemic. There were arguments that frontline staff wouldn’t have time to participate but there were also suggestions that interviews could take place via video calls.
Others defended RTÉ arguing that the plan wouldn’t impact on the work of the hospital and it’s important to share the stories of frontline staff dealing with the surge in Covid-19 cases. One argued that the broadcast would help in getting thousands of people to “cop on” about the need to prevent the spread of the virus.
An RTÉ spokesperson said: “The Claire Byrne Live broadcast has been arranged with the full cooperation of the Mater Hospital.
“The aim of programme is to highlight the pressure hospitals are under right now, with first-hand accounts from frontline workers putting a renewed focus on the importance of following public health guidelines.
“It will give viewers an insight into the challenges hospital staff are facing in this current wave of the pandemic.
“The live broadcast will take place in an outdoor environment with strict Covid safety protocols observed by all on site.”
Source: Irish News