Creighton 'uneasy' over 'Frontline' tweet incident




Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has said that there is scope for a further investigation into RTÉ's ‘Frontline’ presidential debate.

The state broadcaster has already apologised to failed candidate Seán Gallagher after the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) last week upheld a complaint from Mr Gallagher relating to a bogus tweet read out on the live programme.

Presenter Pat Kenny incorrectly referenced the tweet, widely seen as having derailed Mr Gallagher's campaign for the presidency, as being from the official account of Martin McGuinness.

An audience member has also alleged that the programme’s production team changed the question he was planning to ask the defeated independent candidate.

Mr Gallagher was today writing to Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte requesting a public inquiry into the matter, while Fianna Fáil is also calling for a full investigation.

Minister Creighton said she believes there is scope for an Oireachtas inquiry or other investigation.

“It worries me very much that a tweet like that could be read out on air, unsubstantiated and not corrected,” she said.

“I think anybody who respects freedom of speech, but also the right to a good name and reputation, it would concern them.

“I think it’s right that there is unease, and I feel uneasy about it,” the junior minister said.

Fianna Fáil communications spokesperson Niall Collins earlier said he supported calls for a full inquiry into the matter, and was critical of the BAI report.

"All the facts need to be put into the public domain" he said.

"It's fully within the public interest that we know exactly the chain of events, who was in charge of the whole process - who knew what, when and where did they know it?" he added.

In a statement yesterday Mr Gallagher described as “disturbing” an allegation in the Sunday Independent that a ‘Frontline’ audience member’s question was changed by a researcher.

Mr Gallagher said the broadcaster cannot disregard the calls for a full public inquiry relating to the production and airing of the 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,” he said in a statement through his solicitor, Pamela Cassidy.

“RTÉ have a case to answer.”

However speaking today, another ‘Frontline’ audience member described her experience of participating in the debate as being very different from that outlined by Pat McGuirk in yesterday’s Sunday Independent report.

“I would have had a couple of emails and maybe three or four ‘phone conversations (with the ‘Frontline’ production team) beforehand,” said Glenna Lynch, who as among those to put a question to the candidates.

“But there was absolutely no sense of any type of editorial direction, or a push to go one way or another, or a suggestion,” she said.

“It just didn’t happen – it wasn’t my experience at all.”

RTÉ has denied Mr McGuirk's allegations saying it was "concerned and disappointed" at the claims.

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