Thursday 12 December 2019

Gardai called to RTE studios after election candidate sparks security alert

Prime Time hosts Miriam O'Callaghan and David McCullough, inset Mark Fitzsimons
Prime Time hosts Miriam O'Callaghan and David McCullough, inset Mark Fitzsimons

Niall O’Connor and Fionnan Sheahan

GARDAI were called to RTE Studios last night after a European election candidate sparked a security alert, can reveal.

Independent candidate Mark Fitzsimons almost forced the Primetime programme to be abandoned after he demanded to be allowed participate in the main Midlands-North-West debate.

Mr Fitzsimons staged a protest in the studio just minutes before the show went on air and was physically removed by a member of the RTE security staff.

“I lay down on the floor and refused to move. They started dragging me and each time I rolled over, did a somersault or whatever so that I couldn’t be removed,” he told

RTE bosses decided to call gardai and Mr Fitzsimons eventually agreed to leave the studio.

Mr Fitzsimons took part in the second part of the programme, along with candidates including Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Fianna Fail senator Thomas Byrne.

He is strongly critical of the decision by RTE to split the debate into two, which the broadcaster claims was done in the interests of fairness and balance.

Mr Flanagan has launched a tirade against RTE on social networks.

An RTE spokeswoman said:

“There was a minor incident in studio last night ahead of the debate section of the Prime Time programme.

"Mr Fitzsimons and his guest looked to make a protest and were asked to leave the studio area.

"Mr Fitzsimmons later appeared on the programme and had the opportunity to voice his views and take part in the debate.”

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