'It shows how desperate Late Late Show is for ratings' - RTÉ under fire for Gilligan invite
National broadcaster RTE tried to get convicted drug dealer John Gilligan to appear as a guest on its entertainment flagship, The Late Late Show.
The 64-year-old criminal was invited to appear as a guest on the programme, hosted by Ryan Tubridy, to "highlight some of the issues" around his "legal battles".
Jimmy Guerin, brother of slain journalist Veronica Guerin, has branded the decision to invite the man thought to be behind her murder on to the show as "an absolute disgrace".
Gilligan recently lost a Supreme Court appeal to hold on to some of the assets seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau following a decades-long battle.
He took to a personal blog to upload a picture of the hand-written letter sent to him by RTE.
A source at the licence fee-funded broadcaster last night confirmed that this was genuine.
"I think it's an absolute disgrace that the national broadcaster, who has been targeted for legal action in the past by Gilligan, would invite him on," Mr Guerin said.
"That they would want to give him airtime is sad.
"I think it shows just how desperate The Late Late Show is for ratings, that they would invite him on the show rather than respecting [journalistic colleague Veronica]," Mr Guerin, who is now a councillor with Fingal County Council, added.
He has previously said Facebook should ban Gilligan.
"RTE would consider writing a letter to Gilligan a valid journalistic endeavour," said a source.
"The show has a history of covering controversial subject matter and topics."
The source added "the Late Late Show has a history of dealing with current affairs issues and controversial guests" and that requesting a meeting doesn't guarantee a "slot on the show".
In 2003, Ulster loyalist Michael Stone appeared as a guest on the programme.
RTE declined to comment on the issue when approached last night.
"As a policy, RTE do not comment on editorial issues," a statement said.
Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996 after confronting the gangster.
She was previously the victim of a vicious assault at his hands.
Given that The Late Late Show is RTE's flagship entertainment programme, some have questioned whether it is an appropriate platform to interview Gilligan.
Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists Seamus Dooley said the broadcaster should have interviewed him on a news or current affairs programme.
"RTE have every right to interview John Gilligan... However, I am surprised that it should be for The Late Late Show," he said.
"Any interview with Gilligan would seem to me to be more appropriate for a straight news programme," he added.
Speaking of his personal view, Mr Dooley expressed his contempt for the criminal.
"For my own part, I know more than I need to know about John Gilligan," he said.
"I treat him with utter contempt and would not watch or listen to him, and I've stopped reading about him."