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Gardaí called after Vincent Browne debate descends into mayhem

A female audience member claimed to have been threatened for applauding a government minister.

Image: TV3

Updated 1pm 

THE FILMING OF a TV3 debate chaired by Vincent Browne was interrupted last night after gardaí were called to deal with jeering audience members.

The pre-recorded Dublin Bay North People’s Debate programme was cut off after a woman claimed she had been threatened by a male audience member for applauding equality minister Áodhan Ó Riordáin, according to witnesses.

Fianna Fáil councillor Deirdre Heney, who is also running in the constituency, told TheJournal.ie that the woman in question alleged the man had “indicated that her picture was on his phone and that he would get her outside”.

Other witnesses said a gay couple was verbally abused during the debate, which was filmed at Clontarf Castle and will be aired tomorrow.

A video posted online by anti-austerity group Dublin Says No shows insults being hurled by several audience members.

Ó Riordáin told RTÉ’s News at One said that people could see for themselves when the debate is broadcast on Wednesday night.  

I think some of the things that were said to me were a little bit distasteful. If TV3 decide not to edit it out people can see it for themselves on Wednesday night.

Gardaí have confirmed that they were called to the hotel after an incident last night.

No arrests were made, a spokesperson said.

TV3 said it was not in a position to comment when contacted this morning.

‘Fairly heated debate’

Renua TD Terence Flanagan, who was at the event, described it as a “fairly heated debate” but said he was not concerned for his safety.

There was obviously an incident that was reported in the media. What happened down there is just one of those things.

His party colleague Billy Timmins, who participated in the Wicklow People’s Debate earlier this year, said there was no doubt that certain political groupings have used the show as a platform to “demonstrate their venom”.

It certainly is being manipulated by some groupings, Sinn Féin, Right2Water, People Before Profit, the usual. People who want their neighbour to pay for everything and don’t want to pay for anything themselves.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin this morning, jobs minister and local TD Richard Bruton, who was also at the debate, insisted he was not shaken by events.

I see this all the time. Of course people have been hurt during this recession. No one can pretend that the crash hasn’t done enormous damage to many families and it stretches to businesses destroyed. People lost their homes and so on.

He said that the job of government has been to “build a pathway out of that”.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

Read: Vincent Browne is going to let ordinary Joe Soaps drive out to TV3 and go on his panel

Read: 12 important things we learned from the TV3 programme launch

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Catherine Healy

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