BBC red-faced over comic's tweet about Stephen Nolan and Paul Gascoigne tears
BBC bosses have been left squirming after one of their most high-profile presenters took a swipe at another huge on-air personality.
Stephen Nolan was targeted on Twitter by Tim McGarry in a remark that has sparked rumours of hostility between the two.
Ahead of last night's penultimate Nolan Live television show, the comedian typed: "#NOLANLIVE has Paul Gascoigne tomorrow. Expect Nolan to force tears out of him, express faux sympathy and try for another James Galway."
Mr McGarry's tweet referred to comments made by veteran musician Sir James Galway on Nolan's mid-morning BBC Radio Ulster show last week. The esteemed flautist launched a scathing attack on Ian Paisley during the show, claiming the former DUP leader was "indirectly responsible" for killings during the Troubles.
Dr Paisley's family has sought legal advice on the comments, but not before it made headlines across Northern Ireland, and they were brought back to the fore when the comments were covered again on the Nolan Show the following Monday.
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr McGarry said his tweet was "personal", adding: "I'd rather not talk about it." In his Twitter profile, he describes himself as: "Writer and comedian from Belfast, Northern Ireland. A member of the comedy group The Hole In The Wall Gang."
The controversial remark is likely to have been seen by many of his 11,400 followers. It was retweeted 15 times, favourited by 29 users, and prompted a host of responses by other tweeters.
Mr Nolan was not available for comment. A BBC NI spokesman said: "Tim McGarry is a comedian and satirist and his comments are his own."
The basic principles of the BBC's editorial guidelines on social media state that when identified as a BBC staff member or BBC talent, people "should not use the internet in any way to attack or abuse colleagues".
Mr McGarry came to prominence on the BBC as part of the Hole In The Wall Gang in the early 1990s and has become one of the corporation's best known faces and voices. As well as his turn as a taxi driver summing up local politics at the end of axed BBC show Hearts And Minds, the 50-year-old has also hosted a range of BBC programmes, including The Blame Game.
It is not the first time presenters have come under fire from the Hole In The Wall Gang. Their 2006 sketch show, Dry Your Eyes, featured a character called Angry Steve, but the comedy group insisted any likeness between the radio DJ who enjoyed fast food, being outraged on air and abusing his assistants and Mr Nolan was purely coincidental.