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Seán Gallagher calls for inquiry over new RTÉ Frontline claims

Gallagher also said he is considering legal action after new reports emerged over the controversial presidential debate.

Gallagher at RTÉ studios before the debate
Gallagher at RTÉ studios before the debate
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

SEÁN GALLAGHER HAS said he is considering legal action after new reports emerged over the controversial RTÉ Frontline presidential debate.

The former presidential candidate also called for a full public inquiry. He said he will be contacting Minister of Communications Pat Rabbitte over the reports, in which a studio audience member claims he was encouraged by producers to ask Gallagher a hostile question.

“The revelations in today’s Sunday Independent regarding RTE’s Frontline Presidential Debate are deeply disturbing,” a statement released on behalf of Gallagher by his legal team said.

It added that the reports raise “the most fundamental questions about the trustworthiness and impartiality of our national broadcaster”.

RTÉ cannot now disregard the calls for a full and proper public inquiry relating to the production and airing of the Frontline programme. All records relating to the programme must be disclosed in a public arena, and every member of the production team must make him or herself available for questioning in the appropriate, independent, forum.

The statement also added: “As of this morning, he [Gallagher] has instructed his legal team to examine these disturbing revelations.”

The Sunday Independent reports today that Pat McGuirk – a member of the studio audience at the Frontline debate last October – has claimed that RTÉ producers altered his prepared question for Gallagher in a way that made it more hostile.

He told the paper: “The question they gave me was ten million per cent away from where I was, my initial question.”

RTÉ could not immediately be reached for comment this morning. However, the broadcaster told the Sunday Independent that McGuirk had expressed no concerns about the question, and had emailed the programme makers following the debate to express his satisfaction with the experience.

Last week RTÉ acknowledged that it had “failed in its obligation of fairness” to Gallagher on the Frontline debate. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland upheld a complaint over a ‘bogus tweet’ read out by presenter Pat Kenny, which was attributed to Martin McGuinness’s presidential campaign but in fact came from another source.

Read: Seán Gallagher’s statement in full>

RTE failed in obligation of fairness to Sean Gallagher, says RTE Board>

BAI upholds Gallagher complaint over Frontline tweet>

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Michael Freeman

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