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Gallagher complains to BAI over 'game-changing' tweet

Gallagher’s performance on The Frontline debate was seen as a game-changing moment in the Race for the Áras but he is not happy about his treatment by RTÉ.

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: RTÉ/YouTube

SEÁN GALLAGHER HAS personally lodged a complaint with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) over the now infamous tweet which his campaign claims was “a game-changer” in the presidential election.

Gallagher claims that RTÉ broadcast a fake tweet during the heated final televised debate on The Frontline programme and made no effort to correct it before the end with the series of events that arose from this fatally damaging his hopes of being elected the ninth President of Ireland last month.

He had been leading in the polls prior to the debate which took play three days before polling.

The 22-page submission has been sent to the BAI and has been compiled and signed by Gallagher personally it is understood.

The Sunday Independent yesterday carried extensive detail of the complaint which surrounds the events on the debate broadcast on RTÉ One on 24 October this year.

During a heated exchange it was alleged by fellow candidate Martin McGuinness that Gallagher had collected a cheque for €5,000 that was intended for Fianna Fáil, an assertion Gallagher denied.

Shortly after that, moderator Pat Kenny read out a tweet from an account purporting to be the official Twitter account of the McGuinness campaign which stated that the man who had allegedly given Gallagher the cheque would be appearing at a press conference the following day.

Responding to this Gallagher appeared to stumble with his answer and was jeered by the audience.

‘Game-changer’

The fallout from the incident would engulf the Gallagher campaign in the days that followed and exit polls indicated it was a deciding factor for voters who had previously intended to make the former Dragons’ Den star their first preference.

Despite the official Sinn Féin account tweeting a clarification to say it had made no comment on the matter, Gallagher says no action was taken by RTÉ to correct the matter.

He alleges that this was a deliberate attempt to conceal information which RTÉ should have known was false.

Gallagher’s former media advisor Richard Moore said recently that there were also questions surrounding the amount of time the debate focused on the independent candidate but having examined the timings of the debate it has been determined that there was no basis for making any formal submission on this matter.

Moore told TheJournal.ie today: “The main issue is the use of the tweet which wasn’t a Sinn Féin tweet, this was a game-changer for the candidate.”

RTÉ said in a statement: “This matter is currently the subject of a complaint to the BAI and we will be dealing with it through that process and that is the only way in which it can be dealt with it at this time.”

Read: Gallagher campaign to complain to BAI over hoax tweet on RTÉ debate >

Read: Frontline Gallagher tweet was from fake McGuinness campaign account >


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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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