STEP aside Bernard Dunne: rumours abounded that the battle over the Lisbon Treaty nearly ended in fisticuffs between Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa and Libertas leader Declan Ganley.
It is understood Mr Ganley and Mr De Rossa almost came to blows following an explosive exchange in the aftermath of Newstalk’s The Wide Angle programme yesterday afternoon.
Once the programme went off air it is understood the two men engaged in a slanging match and name-calling flew back and forth.
It is understood that various expletives were uttered as the two men went all but toe-to-toe, before People Before Profit campaigner Richard Boyd Barrett, another guest on the programme, stepped in as peacemaker.
The politics.ie website reported that a fistfight was “narrowly avoided”.
A Newstalk source told the Irish Examiner, however, that no one at the station saw any physical contact between the two. They confirmed that strong words including “profanities” were exchanged between the two men on leaving the studio and that Mr Boyd Barrett had stepped in to try and ease the situation.
Mr Boyd Barrett said it was not true to say that the two men had come to blows, but admitted the exchange was “very heated”.
“They were right up next to each other, shouting in each other’s faces,” Mr Boyd Barrett said. “It was very heated. It was completely over the top. Certainly there were heated exchanges and I suppose I suggested to them that they should calm down.”
It is understood Newstalk has video footage of the verbal altercation but there is no sound on the clip.
Mr De Rossa last night sought to play down the incident, saying he could not state “hand-on-heart” the exact terms used, but he admitted that “there were words exchanged”.
“We left the building and we were exchanging words of various kinds.”
The incident comes at the end of testy exchanges between both sides of the debate.
Last week Mr Ganley was labelled a “failed politician” by Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, who was criticised by Mr Ganley for “swanning around” with an EU Commissioner.
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