Dermot Bannon DeniesGovernment Payment for Featuring Granton RTÉ Show

Irish architect Dermot Bannon denies receiving payment from the government for featuring a vacant property refurbishment grant on his RTÉ show. Bannon and a producer received a private briefing from the Department of Housing on the grant scheme, sparking controversy over government influence on media.

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Dermot Bannon DeniesGovernment Payment for Featuring Granton RTÉ Show

Dermot Bannon DeniesGovernment Payment for Featuring Granton RTÉ Show

Irish architect Dermot Bannon has denied receiving anypayment from the Governmentfor featuring their vacant property refurbishment grant on his RTÉ property programme, Room To Improve. The denial comes amidst controversy over a briefing Bannon and a producer on the show received from the Department of Housing about the grants.

Why this matters: This controversy raises questions about the influence of government on media and the potential for biased reporting. It also highlights the importance of transparency in government initiatives and their promotion through public media.

Bannon attended the launch of a property development with Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien on Friday, where he was questioned about the allegations. When asked if he or his company had received a subvention for featuring the grant on the show, Bannon replied, "No."

Minister O'Brien defended the show's feature of the grants, stating, "Sorry, these grants are working really well... I think to be fair, for any TV or radio show or any newspaper, it's only right and proper that they do their research." He highlighted the success of the grant scheme, with 7,500 families applying and over 4,000 approved, with up to €70,000 available per grant to refurbish vacant homes and bring them back into use.

The controversy surrounds a private briefing Bannon and his quantity surveyor, Claire Irwin, received from Department of Housing officials on the vacant property refurbishment scheme in September 2022. A department spokesperson confirmed the briefing was provided to the Room to Improve production team upon their request.

When questioned further about receiving the departmental briefing, Bannon interjected, "Did I?" and later refused to answer additional questions, citing "We've got a lot of house to get through, and I will talk to you after this." RTÉ and Coco Productions, the company behind Room to Improve, did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

The vacant property refurbishment grant has been successful in bringing empty homes back into use, with thousands of families benefiting from the scheme. Minister O'Brien sees no issue with informing the public about available grants to help them secure a home. As the controversy unfolds, Bannon's involvement and the extent of government influence on the popular RTÉ show remain under scrutiny.