Belfast Telegraph

Gallagher condemns treatment by RTE

Former presidential candidate Sean Gallagher has compared his treatment by RTE to that of defamed priest Father Kevin Reynolds after he complained about the broadcast of a bogus tweet.

The businessman said he was treated with hostility and arrogance when he tried to get answers from senior broadcasting executives about an unverified Twitter account he blamed for ruining his election hopes.

"I got some understanding of just how difficult it was for him to get justice," Mr Gallagher said.

The former Dragons' Den investor and Fianna Fail fundraiser said he made several unsuccessful attempts to get answers about the source of a tweet which raised questions about his political past and fundraising links to Fianna Fail.

"I did feel a sense of injustice about the tweet and how I had been treated," he said. "I was just gobsmacked by the arrogance and hostility of their response. No contrition, no apology - not even considering that they did anything wrong."

Mr Gallagher contacted the state broadcaster direct, asked for a meeting with director general Noel Curran and lodged a freedom of information request before complaining to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

He was angered by allegations lifted from an unverified Twitter account initially reported by Frontline host Pat Kenny as coming from the Sinn Fein-Martin McGuinness election campaign.

In a statement, RTE said its director general had turned down a request for a meeting by Mr Gallagher's solicitor because they felt it would be inappropriate as the freedom of information process was continuing at the time.

The broadcaster said it had already accepted in full the decisions of the BAI in relation to the Frontline tweet controversy. It had also apologised to Mr Gallagher for its failures. Furthermore, RTE said a full editorial review was ordered into programme-making practices, which will be completed shortly, and new guidelines are being finalised as part of an overhaul.

"RTE, its board and the director general share a commitment to ensuring that the restoration of public confidence in RTE's journalism progresses without delay" the statement added.

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