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FF apologises to Halligan over possible TV3 slur

Fianna Fáil says it’s sorry if its questions over Enda Kenny’s interview questioned the TV3 journalist’s professionalism.

Image: TV3.ie

FIANNA FÁIL has offered an apology to TV3′s political editor Ursula Halligan after questioning whether her interview with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, broadcast last night, was subject to preconditions.

The interview, recorded on Sunday and broadcast on last night’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, had followed a similar interview recorded with Newstalk radio – which the radio station had suggested was subject to agreed pre-conditions that the subject of Kenny’s teaching pension would not be discussed, though it later clarified that no requests for preconditions were made.

Fianna Fáil had contacted TV3 about the Halligan interview to ask whether Fine Gael had insisted on any preconditions – but this evening said it had received clarification from the TV station that Fine Gael had not asked for certain topics to be undiscussed.

The party has attempted to make political hay of the interview, which it said was “one of the most incisive of this election campaign” – but added that it regretted if its inquiries cast a question mark over Halligan’s work.

“If our enquiries about Fine Gael’s tactics created any question mark over Ms Halligan’s independence or professionalism, we apologise to her and her team at TV3,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The apology followed an earlier press release from outgoing government chief whip John Curran, who said the interview had been conducted “at the peak of the controversy” about whether Kenny would be drawing the €100,000 pension lump sum to which he was entitled after formally quitting the teaching profession.

Kenny had earned the lump sum – as well as a €30,000 annual pension – for his 34 years of service in the job, despite having been on Oireachtas leave for the past 30 years.

“The journalist did not ask one question about Enda’s pension. This is most unusual from one of Ireland’s most incisive interviewers,” Curran said.

The absence of any discussion of the pension, Curran had added, “raises questions over whether or not Fine Gael once again censored a media outlet from asking awkward questions.”

Fianna Fáil has posted the interview to its own website, asserting that the interview showed Kenny “failing to answer any questions straight. He continuously returns to his Five Point [Plan] soundbite… he offers no solutions.”

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Gavan Reilly

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