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Minister axed from TV cooking show over referendum fears

  • Minister Zappone dropped as guest on celebrity cooking show
  • Told last week she would be dropped 'because of next year's abortion referendum'
  • Communications Minister Denis Naughten will now ask BAI to 'provide clarity and guidelines to broadcasters on Referenda coverage'

Philip Ryan ·

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Popular show: 'The Restaurant' is filmed in Marco Pierre White’s restaurant. Photo: David Conachy. Inset: Minister Katherine Zappone

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has been dropped as a guest on a celebrity cooking show over fears her role in the forthcoming abortion referendum would prevent the programme from being broadcast.

Ms Zappone agreed to appear on TV3's The Restaurant two months ago but was told last week that it was decided she would be dropped from the upcoming series of the cooking show because of next year's abortion referendum.

The minister said she found it "bewildering" that her views on abortion would prevent her from appearing on the television cooking show.

"At no stage was it my intention to discuss this or any other political issue during the recording of The Restaurant, which makes this last-minute decision all the more surprising and difficult to understand," she told the Sunday Independent.

She later tweeted; "Disappointed producers of TV's The Restaurant withdrew invite to take part because of fears show would not be aired during #repealthe8th debate... as reported."

Vision Independent Productions, which produces the show for TV3, said it was concerned the station would not air an episode featuring the minister during the referendum.

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Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Steve Humphreys

In a letter, a company representative said the producers were concerned with what was "coming down the road in terms of Zappone's role in what's shaping up to be a busy time around the 8th Amendment issue over the coming months".

The company said it was worried that "events could overtake" and TV3 could choose not to broadcast an episode of the show.

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Popular show: 'The Restaurant' is filmed in Marco Pierre White’s restaurant. Photo: David Conachy

The minister was told the decision was taken for "commercial reasons".

Communications Minister Denis Naughten said in light of the revelations, he will now ask the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to "provide clarity and guidelines to broadcasters on Referenda coverage."

A TV3 spokesperson said yesterday that they would have had "no issue" with the minister appearing in the show.

Sunday Independent

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Popular show: 'The Restaurant' is filmed in Marco Pierre White’s restaurant. Photo: David Conachy. Inset: Minister Katherine Zappone
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Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Steve Humphreys
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Popular show: 'The Restaurant' is filmed in Marco Pierre White’s restaurant. Photo: David Conachy