Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy
On RTÉ Radio’s One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy was interviewed by Mr O’Rourke.
At one point, Mr Duffy accused RTÉ of being a “fan club” of Michael D Higgins – who is hoping to retain his position in the Áras.
A tetchy exchange followed.
Mr O’Rourke later asked Mr Duffy about his work for Denis O’Brien after the publication of the Moriarty Tribunal in March 2011.
From the interview…
Gavin Duffy: “I think in a situation where we don’t have a Government in Northern Ireland, I think we’ve to start building bridges again. I think President Mary McAleese did huge work building bridges north and south, and east and west, on these islands.
“I’d have to say our incumbent didn’t follow on in that work and…”
Seán O’Rourke: “But hold on. I was there, I was in Windsor, we broadcast two programmes when he was on the State visit to the United Kingdom. Surely that was a seminal moment…”
Duffy: “That was an absolute seminal moment and when the United Kingdom queen came here, in 2011, also a seminal moment, and it shows what, you know, sometimes we dismiss these positions as just ceremonial. The queen just bowing her head in our Garden of Remembrance did more than a lot of political speeches would have done.
“But, on the ground work in Northern Ireland has not happened, in this presidential term. Like it did with Mary McAleese and her husband Martin McAleese. That’s just a fact.
“And I know RTÉ is a fan club for the, the, the president.”
O’Rourke: “Hold it right there.”
Duffy: “Yes, Seán.”
O’Rourke: “I don’t think you can say that.”
O’Rourke: “Without back it up.”
Duffy: “OK. You know, RTÉ paid out a large amount of money, so large they’re embarrassed to tell what it was, for the debate in the last election…”
O’Rourke: “That had nothing to do with being a fan club for Michael D Higgins. It had everything to do with screwing up the handling, the mishandling of a tweet…”
Duffy: “Well sorry…when somebody in your control room is saying ‘we got him’ and that’s the evidence – you’ve asked me to back it up, Seán. I mean I didn’t want to get into this with you…”
O’Rourke: “That was something that was badly screwed up. Everybody was deeply embarrassed. A settlement was made, it had to be made. I don’t think you can join the dots…”
Duffy: “Why is the settlement a secret, Seán?”
O’Rourke: “I don’t think you can join, I don’t think you can join…”
Duffy: “”Why is the settlement a secret, Seán?”
O’Rourke: “…from there to what you’re saying.”
Duffy: “Yeah, but why is the settlement a secret?”
O’Rourke: “Because that’s what was agreed in court and I don’t know the answer to that question by the way, I’m just simply…”
Duffy: “I know but do you think when it’s a licence payers…”
O’Rourke: “I think for you to make a sweeping statement like you just did, I just had to call a halt to it or challenge you on it.”
Duffy: “Seán I accept that but you are saying when I was making a statement that Mary McAleese worked very hard on making bridges in Northern Ireland and the incumbent hasn’t – it was in that context that I made that reply to you. We haven’t worked…”
O’Rourke: “She had a particular background there and as does her husband Martin. They were in a particular position to use that in a way that other officer holders, other presidents were not able…”
Duffy: “I know but Seán but why don’t you just…I mean, look it, President Higgins is doing certain things…strengths…”
Talk over each other
Duffy: “Why don’t you just accept – he dropped the torch in Northern Ireland?”
O’Rourke: “That is a sweeping political statement for you to make and no doubt I’m happy to put it to him if he comes in next, cause we hope he does or between now and the 26th [of October, polling day]. But in any event…”
O’Rourke: “Again, a spotlight has been shone on your dealings with Denis O’Brien. You make the point that your did very little in terms of the hours spent working for Denis O’Brien. But the question is though, it’s about when those hours were spent. It was on the day of the time the Moriarty Tribunal was released. Is it the case that your prepped him? Effectively fed him the lines to use when he was being interviewed about that on the Six One?”
Duffy: “This is an awkward one for me Seán because I’ve been saying it’s very important to be open and transparent and yet I have to be conscious of a client and confidentiality and, you know, sometimes, I might have been asked to go and talk to somebody to have, and I’m not talking about the particular gentleman you’ve raised. But I might have gone to have a chat with him, to tell them to go a different route than they might have gone, etc.
“But. Look. Like accountants, like barristers, like lawyers, who advise clients, etc, that remains client confidential and I offer them advice as well and that’s what I was doing. But I accept what you’re saying.
“It was at a significant time. But over a period of 20 years, it account for less than 40 hours. I wouldn’t call Denis O’Brien a significant client but, you know, he is a very public figure and therefore it’s legitimate that I would be asked questions about him and I’m happy to answer them as best as I can and as fully as I can.”
Previously: Sean Gallagher: Biffo’s Bagman
Listen back in full here