Wednesday 14 November 2018

'It was just so ridiculous ... I couldn't take it' - Heckler who interrupted RTÉ presidential debate

Áras contender: Norma Burke (Bunty Twuntingdon-McFluff)
Áras contender: Norma Burke (Bunty Twuntingdon-McFluff)

Ian Begley

The woman who disrupted the first televised presidential debate last night has spoken to Independent.ie about her reasons behind the attempted boycott.

Norma Burke, aka Bunty Twuntingdon McFluff, forced RTE host Claire Byrne to take an immediate ad break when she interrupted presidential hopeful Peter Casey from the audience.

Ms Burke, a satirical presidential nominee, made headlines last month after suggesting to Dublin City Council that the Government should burn dead people for fossil fuels and turn the Aras into a luxury hotel, hunting lodge and spa.

Dressed in her iconic pink suit and blonde wig, she shouted that Peter Casey was a joke and that “Bunty was robbed” before being escorted out of the premise.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Ms Burke said she intended to ask a serious question, but could no longer stand the “drivel” coming from the four candidates.

“I got so furious when Peter Casey started talking about how he would put seven women in the council of state, but couldn’t name any. It was just so ridiculous and pure tokenism.

All four candidates criticised President Michael D Higgins and Sean Gallagher for not showing up for the campaign's first live television debate
All four candidates criticised President Michael D Higgins and Sean Gallagher for not showing up for the campaign's first live television debate

“There were so many people talking drivel during the debate that I just had to get out. I shouted ‘I can’t take this anymore and I’m leaving’. And as I was being escorted out, I yelled ‘Bunty was robbed’ and that Peter Casey was a joke.”

Ms Burke added that she applied for a ticket in advance of the debate and had no trouble gaining entry to the RTE studio, despite being a recognisable figure.

“I went into the packed studio dressed as Bunty at the very last moment, but if anyone from RTE prevented me from gaining entry I would have stood my ground and strongly questioned them on that basis.

“I was perfectly entitled to be there just like everyone else.”

When Claire Byrne cut to an ad break during the interruption, Ms Burke got up to leave, but unfortunately lost her shoes in the process.

“I took a bit of a tumble when I stood up and my shoes slipped off so I had to leave the studio barefoot.

“Two guys accompanied me out of the building, but to be honest there was no need as I was leaving anyway.”

Ms Burke hinted to Independent.ie that there may be more appearances of Bunty before the October 26 presidential election.

In a statement, an RTE spokesperson said: “Audience selection was founded on open applications from members of the public.

“The audience was selected by an external company to be representative both geographically, politically and demographically of the electorate.

“We regret a member of the audience decided to interrupt the candidates.

“They were removed from the studio and the live broadcast continued.”

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