Broadcaster Gay Byrne has slammed the Irish media and blamed a ‘News of the World’ mentality for his decision not to contest the President election.
In an incredible attack on his ‘colleagues’ in the media industry, Byrne has passed the buck for his failure to put his name on the ballot paper.
Despite freely admitting that he is back working – 12 years after the official retirement age in Ireland – due to his financial problems, Byrne accused journalists of needlessly delving into his troubled past.
He blamed the ‘malice-filled dangerous souls’ in Irish journalism for his decision not to enter a Presidential election campaign he might have won according to the opinion polls.
“There sure are some malevolent, malice-filled, dangerous souls who delight in the chance to destroy, undermine and denigrate, what I’d call the News of the World mentality - do anything for a story, and you end up with the hacking scandal,” Byrne told the Sunday Independent.
“In my case, these people had 40 years of Late Late Show and 30 years of The Gay Byrne Show to fall back on for ammunition, and they went scurrying to it with gusto.
“I was shocked by the level of media intrusion over my past. The level of misinformation was breathtaking.
“Every five minutes there was some clown on the phone asking me could I stand over what I said on either show about such-and-such in 1976, 1983, or 1968?
“I’ve been accustomed to pretty regular maulings by the press through the years, and I’ve always considered it part of the job, but for anyone new to the game it must be deeply upsetting.
“The level of misinformation, half-baked conjecture and loony theorizing that goes on is breathtaking.”
Byrne’s remarks came as a new opinion poll for the Sunday Independent maintains that the electorate is now confused by the Presidential election possibilities in the wake of the David Norris scandal and Micheal O Muircheartaigh’s decision not to run.
The pollsters also backed Fianna Fail’s imminent decision not to run a candidate with 75 percent supporting party leader Micheal Martin’s stance.
Just 14 percent of those polled thought Fianna Fail should support a party member.
The Labor Party candidate Michael D Higgins is now the hot favorite for the Aras on 47 percent support.
Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell is second on 23 percent, independent Mary Davis is on 16 percent with Sean Gallagher on 14 percent.