Saturday 18 January 2020

Audience members demanded answers on issues from jobs to cheques and party connections

Sean Gallagher has demanded a public inquiry into the production and airing of a TV show on RTE
Sean Gallagher has demanded a public inquiry into the production and airing of a TV show on RTE
RTE director general Noel Curran

Compiled by Edel Kennedy

On the controversial 'Frontline' presidential debate, Pat Kenny said each candidate had five supporters in the audience, with questions coming from other members of the audience. These are the questions:

• Siobhan Feeley to all the candidates: "What do they think it says about the country that just eight months after we ejected Fianna Fail from office, an ex-Fianna Fail businessman looks set to be our next president?"

• Grace: "My question is to Gay Mitchell. Your party is in power at the moment and is doing very well in the polls. You, however, are doing badly. Is it all down to you?"

• Dermot: "Would David Norris accept that since his return to the race he has shown a remarkable lack of judgment?"

• Emma Louise: "I would like to ask Martin McGuinness, as a young Irish person, I'm curious as to why you've chosen to come down here to this country with all your baggage, your history, your controversy, and how do you feel you can represent me as a young Irish person who knows nothing of the Troubles and doesn't want to know anything about it?"

• Glenna Lynch: "My question is for Sean. Sean, given the trail of misunderstandings and confusions and accounting errors, and basic improper business practices that seem to have littered your career so far, and given your own total refusal to ever answer a straight question in relation to any of those details -- amid increasing voter worry that you may not just have the integrity for this job and that you may bring the presidency into disrepute at some point in the future as these things unfold in the future -- given all of that Sean, do you still feel that you should offer yourself up for presidency?"

• Subsequent question from Glenna: "What customer pays somebody a cheque for €89,000? What customer could that have been? This is for motivational speaking, that's an extraordinary fee. I think most people would very interested to know where this cheque came from, it's an incredible size."

She went on to ask what company the money was paid to.

• Kevin Conroy: "My question is to Martin McGuinness. It relates to the IRA killings, right down to the Good Friday Agreement. I would just begin by saying I fully agree with you in relation to everything you've said in relation to Sean Gallagher and the damage Fianna Fail has done to this nation.

"The question is this. I don't think it's any less damning than the damage that was done by your party and Sinn Fein, with the 3,000-plus killings that took place right up to the Good Friday Agreement. My question is, do you see these killings as murder or would you say they were war victims?"

• Brendan: "Mandatory reporting will soon become law in this Republic. Will all the presidential candidates agree to report to the gardai any allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor, whether they believe it to be false or malicious? And if they were president, would they have any hesitation about signing a bill which would make mandatory reporting law?"

At this point, after an ad break and one hour into the programme, Mr Kenny reports about the Tweet claiming that Sinn Fein will produce the man who gave the cheque to Sean Gallagher.

• John McCarroll: "My question is for each member of the panel. How do they personally intend to vote next Thursday on what has become known as the Abbeylara amendment?"

• Liam Murphy: "At various points in the election, it was said maybe the president should have a more average wage or a cheaper car, maybe volunteer in hospitals. Do you all secretly think the presidency has been cheapened?"

• Brendan (interrupts): "Would they go down and visit the protesters outside the Central Bank as president?"

• Pat McGuirk: "Sean, in the boom times, you created 100 jobs. How many of them are still in existence? People are sick and tired of hearing about creating jobs so how many of them are still there?"

• Unnamed audience member: "My concern is on who might be appointed to the Council of State. Would the panel consider Denis O'Brien a suitable person to serve on the Council of State?"

Irish Independent

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