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RTE debate in fake tweet row was put up for IFTA

RTE nominated its controversial Frontline Presidential Debate for an award more than two weeks after they knew a tweet read out during the programme was fake.

The programme was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award despite the fact that Sinn Fein had distanced itself from the tweet before the programme had even ended.

The fake tweet ultimately derailed Sean Gallagher's Presidential campaign and led to an investigation by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland about the handling of the issue.

It was read out by presenter Pat Kenny during the final televised debate of the presidential campaign on October 24 last.

It suggested Sinn Fein would be holding a press conference the next day with a person who allegedly gave a €5,000 fundraising donation for Fianna Fail to Mr Gallagher.

While the programme was still on air, Sinn Fein sent in another tweet saying the first one had not come from their party.


An investigation by the BAI concluded that the false tweet had been unfair to Mr Gallagher, who had complained that there was no attempt to tell the audience about the second tweet from Sinn Fein.

The BAI agreed that this was unfair to Mr Gallagher who was well ahead in the presidential polls at the time, but whose campaign slumped after the programme.

When asked why the programme nomination had not been withdrawn from the IFTA once Mr Gallagher lodged an official complaint, RTE said it was complying with the BAI process.

At the time, it was defending the programme regarding the allegation of unfairness.

The BAI investigation found that the failure to check the first tweet's authenticity was unfair to Mr Gallagher. RTE apologised for this.

The nomination of Frontline for an IFTA was unsuccessful and the top award for the Current Affairs/News category went to The Home Care Scandal programme.

Meanwhile the family of a now deceased cleric accused of child sex abuse on RTE's Mission to Prey programme has called for an inquiry into the claim.

Christian Brother Gerard Dillon of Clarecastle in Co Clare was accused of a sex assault on a boy in South Africa.

The family of Brother Dillon, who passed away in 2005, has asked for an inquiry into how the abuse claim was investigated and allegedly verified by RTE.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has asked for time to consider the request.