Tuesday 20 March 2018

'An absolute disgrace' RTE bid to get Gilligan on the Late Late Show slammed

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

Luke Byrne, Kirsty Blake Knox and Conor Feehan

RTÉ has come under fire for inviting convicted drug trafficker John Gilligan to join host Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show.

The criminal, who is believed to have ordered the murder of Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin, was invited in a hand- written letter penned by a researcher on the show.

Ms Guerin's brother Jimmy said the move was a "disgrace".

Jimmy Guerin, brother of murdered journalist Veronica Guerin, said it was “an absolute disgrace” that RTÉ would invite Gilligan onto the Late Late Show.

“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.

“That they would want to give him airtime is sad,” he said.

“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 (their journalistic colleague Veronica Guerin),” he said.

Despite spending 17 years in prison for drug trafficking and largely being suspected of being behind one of the most callous and shocking murders in the history of the state Mr Gilligan was invited to talk about his 'legal battles'.

John Gilligan. Photo: Collins
John Gilligan. Photo: Collins

He recently lost a High Court bid to stop the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) from  seizing his luxurious Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in Co Kildare.

The letter read from the Donnybrook station read:

"Dear Mr Gilligan....I understand from recent newspaper reports you intend setting up a Facebook page to highlight some issues surrounding your legal battle.

"Perhaps you might be interested  in discussing these issues on the Late Late Show".

The letter was penned on headed RTÉ paper and Mr Gilligan was given the number of the staff member to get in touch.

He posted the letter to a social media page he has set up to bemoan recent court cases he has lost. He said he would not be appearing.

Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin

This evening RTE said they would not be commenting on Gilligan’s social media post and added that as a policy they “don’t comment on editorial issues.”

However sources within RTÉ confirmed that the handwritten letter had been sent by an RTÉ researcher.

However the source said: “RTÉ would consider writing a letter to Gilligan a valid journalistic endeavour. The show has a history of covering controversial subject matter/ topics.”

The source added that “the Late Late Show also 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”

Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Séamus Dooley, questioned the appropriateness of a request for John Gilligan on the Late Late Show.

Mr Dooley said that other media organisations have sought to question John Gilligan.

In the past the Irish Independent has confronted Gilligan in relation to court cases or developments in the investigation into Ms Guerin's murder.

“However, I am surprised that if RTÉ were to interview John Gilligan, 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 said.

Speaking of his personal view, he expressed his contempt for the criminal.

“For my own part, I know more than I need to know about John Gilligan.

 "I treat him with utter contempt and would not watch or listen to him, and I’ve stopped reading about him,” he said.

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