Thursday 22 August 2019

'I had to make it outrageous to make my point' - Woman behind presidential bid hoax in fraught radio row

  • Radio presenter Norma Burke protesting quality of candidates presenting themselves for 2018 Áras race
  • Presents satirical bid to Dublin City Council
  • Claims, as president, she would create a reality TV show for the Áras and burn dead people for fossil fuels
  • Councillor Mannix Flynn slams Burke and her alter ego ''Bunty Twuntingdon-McFluff'
  • 'It wasn't Monty Python, it wasn't funny... it was an absolute disgrace'
Norma Burke pictured outside the Dublin City Council meeting (Inset: Councillor Mannix Flynn)
Norma Burke pictured outside the Dublin City Council meeting (Inset: Councillor Mannix Flynn)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A WOMAN who presented a satirical presidential bid for the Áras race before Dublin City Council has said she "had to take it to an outrageous level to make her point".

Speaking this morning, radio presenter Norma Burke said she is protesting the quality of candidates presenting themselves for the 2018 presidential race.

Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn slammed Ms Burke's satirical approach and described her as a "major self-promoter".

The council ultimately decided not to endorse any candidate for the upcoming presidential election following "bizarre" and "outrageous" scenes at City Hall yesterday.

In an on-air row on RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme, Cllr Flynn said he believes she "completely disregarded and disrespected the other candidates". 

Donning the alias 'Bunty Twuntingdon-McFuff', Ms Burke introduced herself to Dublin City Council yesterday as a PR executive and "the PR brains behind the Brexit bus".

Presidential hopeful Norma Burke, aka Bunty Twuntingdon McFluff
Presidential hopeful Norma Burke, aka Bunty Twuntingdon McFluff

She was one of six presidential hopefuls who were invited to a special meeting of the council to deliver a five-minute pitch on why they should be nominated for the race.

They included Sarah-Louise Mulligan, Peter Casey, Norma Burke, Gemma O'Doherty, John Groarke and Marie Goretti. However, it was Ms Burke's presentation that received the loudest reaction.

The newest candidate in the race suggested burning dead people for fossil fuels and turning the Áras into a hunting lodge and spa. She also suggested the possibly of creating a new reality television show to our screens called 'In Your Áras' and said she would use the post to create "powerful contacts" for her own personal gain.

Ms Burke said she is eligible to put herself forward for president, as she is over 35 years of age and an Irish citizen, but her bid was "performance as protest".

"I'm protesting against the quality of candidate, I was in the character of this woman who runs a PR firm and who has set up an office in Dublin post-Brexit," she said.

"It was pretty outrageous, in order to make the point I was making I had to make it outrageous.

Norma Burke as ‘Bunty Twuntingdon-McFluff’ Photos: Gareth Chaney
Norma Burke as ‘Bunty Twuntingdon-McFluff’ Photos: Gareth Chaney

"Otherwise people might have taken me seriously. So many candidates are presenting bizarre ideas, someone genuinely wants to bring back hanging.

"If I didn't make it outrageous, people may not have got it, they may have thought it was real.

"I covered serious issues, the point was I looked at the subjects through the lens of a grotesque character."

Cllr Mannix Flynn slammed Ms Burke's approach and said she had "no regard for the other candidates".

"It wasn't Monty Python, it wasn't funny, it was highly disrespectful and inappropriate," he told the programme.

"She had no regard for the other candidates. By the time the others came up to the platform, they were completely undermined by the ridiculous nature of her pitch.

"At no stage did Norma tell us this was a protest, a legitimate protest," he continued.

"It only became a protest when I challenged her outside. There are some candidates who want to be nominated who have ridiculous ideas, but this turned into utter contempt.

"This wasn't funny, this was the council chambers, subject to protocol and code of conduct."

He claimed she was "an absolute disgrace".

Ms Burke continued; "Let me make my point", before he interrupted her, saying; "You don't have a point Norma."

Ms Burke then referred to an incident in 2016 when Cllr Mannix Flynn held a window ledge protest at Dublin's City Hall, where he called for the disbanding of the Artane Band, to which he replied; "You simply used the platform for your own ego, madam.

"You disregarded your own candidates. Nobody was being affected by me on the window ledge", before adding; "You are full of self-want."

Ms Burke replied; "You voted not to put anyone forward [at the presidential nomination] because you thought none of them were worthy of office."

Veteran RTÉ journalist David Davin-Power entered the debate, saying; "I hope I'm not shouted down, but Norma did us all a great service by highlighting the quality of the candidate.

"It is true that a lot of the candidates are runners and riders and quite a few loose horses. "Some of the platforms they are running on are completely absurd.

"It is self-promotion, people who have been successful in their own field and now feel they can branch out into politics."

He continued; "Dublin City Council certainly have a lot to answer on how people are allowed make their pitch.

"All Norma had to do was write to say she was rocking up. Could you just rock up and make a pitch to be Lord Mayor?

"You have to do many years, yet they seem to allow anybody to make a pitch for president.

"I salute Norma for highlighting what is in danger of descending into a farce."

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