herald

Wednesday 21 November 2018

TV3's Ursula was 'blocked' by the Taoiseach's advisor

ENDA Kenny's official spin doctor has launched a bizarre attack on TV3's Ursula Halligan, accusing her of displaying "disgraceful" behaviour towards the Taoiseach.

Government press secretary Feargal Purcell took the unprecedented step of filing a complaint with TV3 bosses alleging its political editor assaulted Mr Kenny.

The €120,000-a-year spin doctor claims that Ms Halligan and other journalists displayed "disgraceful" and "aggressive" behaviour when asking the Taoiseach questions.

The bizarre complaint came just hours after an extremely poorly organised interview with Mr Kenny when he dodged questions on the issue of same sex marriage.

At one stage, the Taoiseach appeared to lose his footing and almost fell over a flower pot.

Witnesses

Mr Purcell alleges that Ms Halligan, the station's political editor, displayed "disgraceful" behaviour towards the Taoiseach when asking him a question.

But witnesses to the incident claim Ms Halligan was "blocked" and "shielded" by Mr Kenny's chief advisor, Mark Kennelly.

A witness said: "She never touched him. It's an absolute joke.

"All the other journalists were there. They are witnesses. They would have reported it if the Taoiseach was assaulted."

Sources say the standard 'doorstep' interview with the Taoiseach was badly organised as reporters were not told whether or not Mr Kenny would be available to speak.

As he emerged from the National Library, Mr Kenny was flanked by Government press secretary Feargal Purcell, advisor Mark Kennelly and Minister Phil Hogan.

"The media scrum moved a bit closer to the Taoiseach but that was about it. Nobody pushed or shoved him."

Ms Halligan was asking a question about same-sex marriage when Mr Kennelly moved in to stop the interview.

"He was like a rugby player about to tackle someone," said a witness. "If anyone was assaulted it was probably Ursula Halligan."

The TV3 political editor is understood to the "deeply upset" by the allegation and declined to comment when contacted by the Herald.

Observers said Mr Kennelly, who earns a salary of €168,000, appeared to "body check" Ms Halligan after she merely asked the Taoiseach a question.

Mr Kenny's handlers became flustered during the interview, especially after the Taoiseach almost fell into a flower pot.

But they are now claiming that Ms Halligan led the so-called "assault" on Mr Kenny.

Mr Purcell told TV3 bosses that Ms Halligan led a "charge" against Mr Kenny -- an accusation she emphatically rejects.

It's understood that furious TV3 management will now file a counter complaint.

The Herald made several efforts to contact Mr Purcell today but he was not available at the time of going to press.

hnews@herald.ie

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