The Week in Politics

The Week in Politics is an Irish news and current affairs programme broadcast on RTÉ One and the RTÉ News channel. It is presented by Áine Lawlor, occasionally by Sharon Ní Bheoláin or Paul Cunningham.[1][2] In its original format in 1996 it was hosted by Caroline Erskine[3] and Seán Duignan.[4]

The Week in Politics
The Week in Politics.png
The Week in Politics
GenreNews and Current Affairs
Presented byAine Lawlor
Country of originIreland
Original languageEnglish
Production locationsStudio 3, RTÉ Television Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Ireland
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time60 mins
Production companyRTÉ
Original networkRTÉ One
RTÉ News channel
Picture formatPAL (16:9)
Audio formatStereo
Original release1996 (1996) –
Related showsPrime Time
Leader's Questions
European Parliament Report
External links

The programme reflects on the political week, with interviews and discussions. The majority of guests are politicians who are Teachtaí Dála or Irish Senators. The programme is broadcast live at noon on Sunday and is repeated throughout the day on the RTÉ News channel and its traditional late night slot on RTÉ One. The programme moved from its late night slot to midday in January 2013.[5]

The programme went off the air for seven weeks in early 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It returned at the end of April. Due to social distancing requirements, the majority of contributors then came on air from RTÉ regional studios or via video conferencing technology. Prior to COVID-19, contributors came to Studio 3 on the RTÉ campus in Donnybrook, Dublin. In March 2021 the programme underwent a complete visual and audio rebranding. The Week in Politics is edited by Joe Mag Raollaigh.

History of notable momentsEdit

Simon Harris interviewEdit

In October 2020 as cases of COVID-19 increased across Ireland, level 3 restrictions were introduced in Dublin and some border counties. With health authorities advising more comprehensive nationwide measures be adopted, speculation and debate over what action the government would take intensified. On Sunday the 18th, the Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris went on the programme and said the government would act the following day. He said the action they would take would be nationwide and decisive. The comments were widely quoted in most national broadcast, print and online media outlets. They were viewed on The Week in Politics' Twitter account 126,000 times. On Monday Taoiseach Mícheál Martin announced Level 5 restrictions for a period of six weeks for the entire country.

Barry Cowen interviewEdit

On July 5, 2020 Barry Cowen, the then-Minister for Agriculture and Marine in the new three-party ruling coalition went on the programme to apologise for a drink driving incident from four years earlier. In an extensive interview with presenter Aine Lawlor, he outlined the circumstances of the incident. He said it was a stupid mistake he was very much regretted. Controversy over the incident continued over the following days and culminated in the Minister's sacking nine days later by Taoiseach Mícheál Martin.

Child abuse compensationEdit

Pat Carey, the Irish Government's Chief Whip, used the show to call for changes to the compensation scheme for victims of child abuse following the revelations contained within the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.[6][7]

Seanad controversyEdit

Fine Gael by-election candidate, George Lee caused controversy in May 2009 when he called for the abolition of Seanad Éireann on The Week in Politics after hearing that the senators only sat for forty days and cancelled one session to pursue a round of golf.[8] Lee is a former employee of RTÉ, having served as their chief economics editor for years before announcing his decision to seek election.[8] The Irish Independent suggested Lee displayed "a lack of basic political knowledge" as Dáil Éireann sits for just one extra day.[8] Lee called the controversial golf session "an absolute outrage" on the show and, when prompted further on his views, said: "I really couldn't be bothered if they [the senators] were shut down, it's a disgrace".[8] Members of his own party were said to be "furious" at Lee's remarks, with one unnamed senator saying it was an "attack... born out of ignorance... does he want to close down the Dáil, too?".[8] Maurice Cummins described the Seanad as the "whipping boy" of Irish politics and Frances Fitzgerald asked Lee to read over the party's policy on the matter.[8]

Bertie Ahern's kitchen cupboardgateEdit

When former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern hid in a kitchen cupboard for a television advertisement in 2010, opposition parties used the show to describe the skit as "terrible" for the country.[9][10]

Pat Rabbitte's admissionEdit

In 2012, host Sean O'Rourke discussed broken promises with Labour Party Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte. During the discussion, with the minister being asked if he had broken any campaign promises, Rabbitte said, "Isn't that what you tend to do during an election?"[11]


  1. ^ "The Week in Politics". RTÉ. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  2. ^ "The Week in Politics: 14 March 2010". Retrieved 15 March 2010.[dead link]
  3. ^ "RTÉ Archives". 5 July 2012.
  4. ^ Morrisey, Marty (23 February 2012). "A Little Bit TV". RTÉ. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  5. ^ The Irish Times Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Carey calls for 50-50 in abuse funding". RTÉ. 31 May 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  7. ^ "Government to demand orders share €1.3bn bill for payouts". Irish Independent. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Lee under fire from his own party over call to axe senators". Irish Independent. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Former Irish leader Bertie Ahern hides in a cupboard in new TV ad – SEE VIDEO". Irish Central. 4 October 2010.
  10. ^ "Bertie's cupboard antics 'terrible' for the country". Irish Examiner. 4 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Pat Rabbitte admits to breaking election promises". 13 December 2012. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013.