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Fontline guest exposed as fraudster

SEAN Gallagher was today facing a showdown with Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte over claims that RTE may have derailed his presidential campaign.

The businessman was due to speak with Mr Rabbitte in order to demand a public enquiry into the Frontline debate which left his campaign in tatters.

The failed presidential candidate is considering taking legal action against the State broadcaster after it "compromised the democratic process" by allegedly rewriting a question from a member of the public.

Audience member Pat McGuirk went public with claims Frontline staff wanted him to "gun down" Sean Gallagher during the live TV debate.

However in a twist today, it has emerged that Mr McGuirk is a convicted fraudster. The 43-year-old pleaded guilty last year to offences linked to a €27,000 insurance claim.

Mr Gallagher was today reportedly taking legal advice over the suggestion that RTE created questions for the Frontline audience. He is expected to demand a public enquiry during discussions with Minister Rabbitte.

However a spokesperson for the Minister was unable to say in what form the communication would take.

Mr Gallagher last week won an apology over a fake tweet read out by presenter Pat Kenny during the programme on October 24 -- just four days before voters went to the polls.

However claims by Mr McGuirk that his question was rewritten by production staff has heaped huge pressure on Montrose bosses.

The question was an attack on Mr Gallagher's record as an employer: "I'm sick and tired of hearing from Sean Gallagher about jobs. He created 100 jobs in the boom and most of them are gone. I think he's too cute for his own good."

However the Monaghan businessman decided not to read the agreed question at the last minute, and instead asked a paraphrased version.

Mr Gallagher's legal team was today examining the revelations.

A statement read out by Mr Gallagher's lawyer Pamela Cassidy said: "RTE boasted that the Frontline programme could be a 'game changer'. It now seems that RTE's production staff were working towards setting the agenda, rather than facilitating a debate between the audience and the candidates."

RTE has rejected the claims.