Tuesday 24 October 2017

Michael O'Doherty: 'It's criminal that gangster Gilligan was even invited on to the Late Late'

Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy and inset John Gilligan and Veronica Guerin
Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy and inset John Gilligan and Veronica Guerin

It is, to most people, scarcely credible that a researcher on The Late Late Show sent an interview request to notorious mobster John Gilligan.

Scrawled on RTE notepaper, a researcher identifies herself and notes that Gilligan has set up his Facebook page to "highlight some issues surrounding your legal battles".

She then asks him whether he "might be interested in discussing these issues" with Ryan Tubridy on the show.

What's even more incredible is that RTE, which confirmed the existence of the invitation, has made no apology for it.

In fact, a source tried to defend this almost unfathomably crass attempt at stirring up controversy by saying that "the show has a history of covering controversial subject matter and topics".

Which is perhaps an appropriate stage to pause and reflect on what RTE is suggesting.

John Gilligan, convicted drug dealer, self-proclaimed prime suspect in the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin and a man who is the main reason why the Criminal Assets Bureau was set up in the first place, is apparently a suitable subject for The Late Late.

Yes, his "legal battles" - a desperate attempt to prevent CAB from seizing his property which has cost the taxpayer €20m in legal aid - are suitable material for 30 minutes of prime time television.

Yes, The Late Late Show has a history of dealing with controversial subjects and has invited on guests who are tainted with more than a whiff of sulphur.

However, John Gilligan is no Katie Hopkins, Gerry Adams or Michael Stone.

Gilligan is a notorious, hardened criminal who has never shown any motivation for his actions other than self-enrichment, who has never admitted, never mind apologised for, his many crimes and who continues to portray himself as an innocent victim of a shocking miscarriage of justice.

Beneath this grotesque invitation to Gilligan, of course, probably lurks the belief, as happened with Hopkins, that Ryan will "put manners" on Gilligan, expose him for the charlatan that he is and in doing so send the audience off to bed happy.

No offence, Ryan, but if you think you're going to humiliate John Gilligan and extract some kind of apology from him, you need to think again.

So, who's next for The Late Late, you may ask?

Perhaps wife-killer Joe O'Reilly or S&M murderer Graham Dwyer can expect a letter from the show's think tank.

After all, both have continued to protest their innocence through the courts since their convictions. Maybe Ryan would like to give them the chance to explain to the world how they've been wronged?

Two weeks ago, RTE announced it was hiring a consultancy firm to give staff training in "inclusivity and diversity". One would have thought that money would be better spent trying to teach them something else.

Like the tiniest smidgen of common sense.


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