Pat Rabbitte, the communications minister, said there is “no evidence” to suggest a further investigation is warranted into the treatment of presidential candidate Seán Gallagher on the RTÉ Frontline debate.
In response to a letter from Mr Gallagher, the minister said if he had any more complaints about the programme, he should take them up with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Mr Gallagher said he wanted a “full and comprehensive investigation” and “full discovery of all communication within the production team” of the programme after one audience member claimed he was instructed to ask Mr Gallagher a particular question.
Pat McGuirk, from Newbliss in Co Monaghan, told the Sunday Independent he was told to ask a question about Mr Gallagher’s job creation efforts by the programme’s production staff.
RTÉ has disputed his version of events, saying the question was solely based on issues Mr McGuirk had raised himself.
Mr Rabbitte told Today FM he considered the request, but does not see any evidence that warrants an inquiry: “I don’t know anything about the credibility of the allegation. I don’t have any evidence yet presented to me. And if there is evidence, I will present it to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
“Questions surround the reliability of Pat McGuirk as a witness,” he added
Last week, the Broadcasting Authority upheld a complaint by Mr Gallagher that a tweet read out during the programme on Oct 24, three days before polling, by presenter Pat Kenny had been unfair.
Now Mr Gallagher believes the fresh allegations from Mr McGuirk warrants further investigation.
In a response last night, the minister said that “if new evidence emerges” then he should pass it on to the broadcasting Authority who will deal with it “comprehensively and expeditiously”
Fianna Fáil had earlier joined calls for an independent inquiry, claiming there had been a “cover-up” by RTÉ of all facts relating to the programme.
Frontbench spokesman, Sean Fleming, said “further facts are emerging in recent days” that RTÉ “appears to be coaching the people who ask the questions.”
He said no one will know if the programme influenced the eventual outcome of the election which was won by Michael D Higgins, but it had “a substantial impact” on Mr Gallagher’s share of the vote.
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