BELEAGURED Presidential hopeful Dana Rosemary Scallon was on the verge of quitting the race today after her astonishing outburst during last night's presidential debate.
The independent candidate launched a shocking and emotional attack on what she called "vile" accusations being wedged against her family.
The Herald can reveal that the former Eurovision winner demanded to be escorted out of RTE by a side door -- to avoid the glare of the media.
Informed sources have revealed today that Dana's campaign is in disarray and it is expected that the former MEP will make a statement on whether she will remain in the race.
The Herald saw Ms Scallon leaving through a side exit before fleeing Montrose in an awaiting 'Dana for President' vehicle.
Ms Scallon stunned fellow candidates and presenter Miriam O'Callaghan by reading out a statement which denounced alleged allegations of a "most untrue, vile and malicious nature".
She added that her lawyers in the US would "leave no stone unturned to get to the heart of these allegations".
She said: "I have to make a very special announcement please. It has come to my attention that yet further allegations -- this time of a most untrue and malicious vile nature -- have been levelled against a member of my family."
She continued: "Let it be known that lawyers have already been instructed to forensically investigate a particular communication that has spread this vile false allegation which attempts to implicate me and destroy my good character." Debate host Miriam O'Callaghan pressed Ms Scallon on several occasions to reveal the detail of the alleged allegations but she refused to do so. "This is not the first attempt to destroy my character," Dana added.
RTE sources told the Herald today that the presidential hopeful was "very upset" after her shocking outburst and that she had to be comforted by her fellow candidates.
A Prime Time spokesperson reacted angrily last night when it was claimed the station facilitated the "scuttling of Dana" out of the building.
The spokesperson fumed: "Nobody scuttled Dana out the side door, nobody.
"The poor woman wanted to leave.
"She was tired and emotional -- that's ridiculous ... will you choose your language more carefully? She left, she wanted to go out the side door -- she's entitled to.
"The woman was clearly very upset, she was upset and tired, is that not a human reaction?"
A spokesperson for Ms Scallon told the Herald today that she had "no further comment" to make. And attempts to contact her directly today were unsuccessful.