RTE move political correspondent indoors after series of foul-mouthed pranks
It has only taken the broadcaster three weeks to move to protect its foremost political reporter from the antics of an increasingly disrespectful public while doing her job, writes Ronald Quinlan
RTE has been forced to confine its foremost political correspondent, Martina Fitzgerald to delivering her TV news reports from inside Dail Eireann following a spate of incidents involving members of the public outside Government Buildings.
In the past three weeks alone, Ms Fitzgerald has been forced to deal with two outrageous interruptions as she delivered live updates on the ongoing talks between Fine Gael and other political parties on the formation of a new government. A third incident which happened off camera is also understood to have taken place.
In the first of these incidents, on April 4 last, the Montrose veteran's report literally fell foul of a teenage lout who lunged forward in front of the TV camera, exclaiming the obscenity, 'F**k her right in the p***y'. To her credit, Ms Fitzgerald maintained her composure and completed her report for that evening's Six One News, ignoring the young man's use of the vulgar internet meme.
The practice in which members of the public seek to sabotage live TV news reports dates back to January 2014 when prankster John Cain produced videos showing a man in a hoodie shouting the phrase behind an unwitting reporter.
While it emerged shortly after that the footage was a hoax, the use of the meme has since spread across the globe.
The second 'on air' interruption of Ms Fitzgerald's reporting occurred on the nine o'clock news on April 14 last. The disruption this time was limited, thankfully, to a lady quoting the famous anarchist, Emma Goldman's statement that: "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal".
A third incident which took place 'off camera' on April 15 last is understood to have led to what one source familiar with the matter described as a "hastily-convened meeting" last Monday, where it was agreed that Ms Fitzgerald would for the foreseeable future, deliver her reports for RTE's TV news programmes from the confines of the State broadcaster's Dail Eireann studio.
Commenting on the most extreme of the three incidentsan RTE spokesperson said: "RTE was "reticent"about making any further comment on the matter for security reasons and to discourage copy cat attempts.
I wonder if RTE will start investing in some protection for their reporters doing live broadcasts after Martina Fitz was interrupted again— Killian Woods (@killianwoods) April 14, 2016
"The safety of all our staff is of the utmost of importance," she said.