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Gallagher campaign to complain to BAI over hoax tweet on RTÉ debate

Gallagher’s performance on The Frontline debate was seen as a game-changing moment in the Race for the Áras.

Gallagher's performance on The Frontline was fatally damaging to his presidential hopes.
Gallagher's performance on The Frontline was fatally damaging to his presidential hopes.
Image: Screengrab via RTÉ/YouTube

SEÁN GALLAGHER’S PRESIDENTIAL campaign is to make a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) over the candidate’s treatment on the dramatic RTÉ Frontline debate last month.

Leading in the polls, Gallagher appeared on the final television debate of the presidential campaign where it was alleged by fellow candidate Martin McGuinness that he had collected a cheque from a man for €5,000 on behalf of Fianna Fáil.

Gallagher denied this but RTÉ then read out a tweet from an account purporting to be an official McGuinness campaign account which said that the man who had allegedly given Gallagher the cheque would be appearing at a press conference the following day.

This turned out to be a hoax tweet and no press conference transpired but the citing of the tweet during the debate appeared to throw Gallagher who spent the final days of the campaign answering questions about the cheque issue.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today Gallagher’s media advisor Richard Moore said that the campaign was planning to make a formal complaint this coming week.

“We didn’t want to be doing it straight away before Michael D Higgins was inaugurated. We didn’t want to rain on his parade but we will definitely be doing it,” Moore said.

Moore, who wrote a piece about his experiences on the campaign for the Sunday Times yesterday, said that the complaint would be “based on the fact it was false tweet introduced into The Frontline debate” but also said there would be a complaint relating to the amount of time the debate focused on Gallagher.

“If you look at the legislation, people are supposed to be given fair treatment. As far as we can tell the clock was ticking more for Seán on the Frontline debate, most of the other candidates were totally ignored.

“You have to adhere to the legislation. If you don’t adhere to it, there are consequences,” he added.

Moore added that Gallagher wasn’t giving any media interviews “for the foreseeable future” and that the former Dragons’ Den star would be spending the next while “recharging his batteries” and “looking at his options”.

RTÉ said it would not be commenting on the issue if and when a formal complaint is made.

Video: Gallagher’s odds of winning drop following Frontline controversy >

Read all TheJournal.ie’s Race for the Áras coverage >

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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