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RTÉ Áras debate heckler says she filled in audience form accurately to get on the show

Norma Burke, AKA, Bunty Twuntingdon McFluff, said she had a “Jennifer Lawrence moment” as she tried to leave the audience.

Image: Dublin City Council/Screenshot

THE WOMAN WHO interrupted the Claire Byrne Show’s live presidential debate said that she filled in a form accurately to secure a place in the audience – and added that she wasn’t planning on interrupting the show.

Norma Burke, aka Bunty Twuntingdon McFluff, interrupted the first televised debate of the presidential campaign as Dragons’ Den investor Peter Casey was answering a question.

But she said that after listening to candidates answer questions like “what is your favourite part of the Constitution?” Burke said that she’d reached her limit.

“I’ve had enough of this and I’m leaving,” she said, and decided to move. She said she hadn’t planned on interrupting and wasn’t heckling – what interrupted the discussion was when she fell down the stairs as she was leaving.

“I had a bit of a Jennifer Lawrence moment,” she said, referencing the moment the actress stumbled on the steps as she went to collect her Oscar.

“My heels were a tiny bit big I had my coat and my bag and I slipped. I have a nice massive bruise now.”

How Burke got on the show

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In a statement to TheJournal.ie last night, RTÉ said that the audience was selected based on open applications from members of the public.

The audience was selected by an external company to be representative both geographically, politically and demographically of the electorate.

“We regret a member of the audience decided to interrupt the candidates,” it added.

Despite this statement, a number of people on Twitter wondered why Bunty wasn’t removed beforehand by RTÉ, as she had given a satirical speech at a Dublin City Council meeting to nominate presidential candidates last month.

“I didn’t plan to heckle,” she responds. “I don’t see any reason why they’d ask me to leave, if they had asked me to leave I would have taken umbrage to that.”

But Burke concurs with the RTÉ statement, and said that she applied to be a member of the audience as everyone else had. 

There was an open call to apply to be in the audience and then I got selected company called Amárach Research. They asked me to fill in a questionnaire as they were looking for ‘a diverse mix’.

“So I filled in the age bracket I’m in, gender, where I was in the country, whether I was a member of a political party, whether I was campaigning for any other candidates, etc.

“And then they contacted me to say ‘You’ve been selected to be in the audience, please click this to say you still want to come’.”

When asked whether the form should have included a question on whether you’ve applied to be a presidential nominee, Burke said:

That would have maybe been a question, I don’t think they thought of it, you wouldn’t really think of that.

Question

She said that audience members were asked to submit questions to ask the candidates, and she did the same. Although it wasn’t guaranteed that each audience member would get to ask a question, when candidates were “waffling on”, she decided that they wouldn’t reach her question and wanted to leave.

Her question was whether business candidates thought there should be a six-year hiatus before they take up the office of the president.

This would allow the six year rule on the statute of limitations to expire so that there isn’t legal action during the presidency “that could to bring the office into disrepute”.

She said that the question occurred to her based an ongoing legal dispute between Gallagher and Nokia Ireland over a heating system, and that she’d want the Dragons’ Den investors’ opinions on this, as well as what other candidates would make of such a rule.

“It was a bona fide question,” she said.

A few members of the audience said that Burke’s presence in the studio “seemed staged”.

There’s been talk that I’m a plant to help someone else. I’m not. Also if I was supporting someone there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’d also be perfectly upfront about that.

I asked if she’d be attending the next televised presidential debate on Virgin Media One tomorrow, which is hosted by Pat Kenny.

“I haven’t been invited,” she said. “But I’d be delighted to accept their invitation and if they let me ask a question, I promise I’ll behave. I’ve lots more killer questions.”

Comments are off as an ongoing legal case has been referenced

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