Prime Time Election Debate: the wee four…

The first of two instalments of head to head debates in the Republic’s election is on RTE Prime Time tonight. Tonight the smaller party leaders do battle: The Greens, The Labour Party, The Progressive Democrats and Sinn Fein. Whereas in Northern Ireland, election time is generally good for spreading attention around the smaller parties, in the Republic the dramatisation of the battle between the big two (they are on tomorrow night) often means that the little four have to scrabble for what public mind share they can. Tonight may not win them any more voters, but some may just be hoping it doesn’t lose them any either. Live here.


  • The Green Party’s excellent election broadcast also goes out for the first time tonight on RTE at 9.25. The youtube version attracted over 2000 hits within 24 hours of the posting. Can’t be bad.

    It can be viewed here:

  • páid

    Who wants to watch a shower of power-mad, crazy murdering bastards when The Sopranos new series is on the other side?

  • The Greens election broadcast goes out on Thursday night actually.

  • middle-class taig

    The Greens: we don’t know what day it is!

  • middle-class taig

    sorry, couldn’t resist, ideological bedfellows, all-Ireland basis, policy overlap, mutual respect, progressive alternatives, etc, etc…..

  • Who wants to watch a shower of power-mad, crazy murdering bastards when The Sopranos new series is on the other side?

    Is that the Greens or the Shinners you’re talking about, páid?

  • Mick Fealty

    Live here. And a live discussion here! Another one here

  • SuperSoupy

    That was enjoyable, solid debate despite the weak chair. McD took a real pummeling from an almost tag team effort. Adams certainly not out of his depth and set the agenda on social issues at several stages. I won’t call a winner but McD seemed the loser despite his attempts to make narco-terrorism an issue.

  • SuperSoupy


    The main debate on these things is always at:

  • Mick Fealty

    Adams undoubtedly the winner in my book. McD though scored well on the Colombia drugs point. Adams seemed to stop goading him after that. The thing about both is they have a base that react oppositely from one another. Sargent for me was better than Rabbit, but I’d say my instincts there might be questionable since I’m not so familiar with either the personalities or the character of their political bases.

    McDowell dealt poorly (actually not at all) with Adams’s stuff on Health, almost as though he wasn’t prepared for it, which looked a bit weird. Adams’ weak point was reading from notes on the tax issues. He just about pulled it off (mostly because there was no serious counterattack), but it made him look like it just wasn’t familiar enough with the affairs of the State.

    Killer point for Adams may be the topical mention of suicide.

    PS, I meant to put in there, but just had to keep watching.

  • Brian Boru

    McDowell won hands-down. Loved the “I am surrounded by the Left, Hard-Left and the leftovers” line. 🙂

    He exposed:

    A: The Greens’ plans for higher taxes e.g. €1 billion bank-levy, taxes on second-homes.

    B: Labour divisions over ASBOs e.g. sacking of Joe Costello in favour of Brendan Howlin.

    C: The SF Columbia allegations he made which I predict will make front pages tomorrow.

  • The Penguin

    I’m not sure I was watching the same debate.
    Rabbite was by far the best debater – articulate and had every point and figure at hand. The other 3 were almost equally dire.
    Adams was slightly worse than the other 2 for beyond soundbites it was clear he hadn’t a baldy notion about any finer detail regarding the State. Hadn’t even figures to match SF promises. Was caught badly with his “we only draw the average industrial wage” nonsense when McDowell pointed out he owned a luxury holiday home in Donegal and a house in Belfast. Also caught on the drugs stuff with Colombia.
    Sargant was too hectoring and notes written on his hand didn’t look good.
    McDowell scored a couple of times but was talked down too often and waffled too much when he did get a chance.

  • Paid, a chara, The Sopranos isn’t on tonight – or tomorrow night – as RTE 2 have cancelled it for this week so as not to clash with the debates.

    If McDowell’s line about FARC and 25m dollar drugs deals makes the front pages tomorrow, it’s only because journalists in some newspapers are too lazy to do anything except take down his half baked claims.

    Where’s the evidence? Where’s the money, Michael?

  • SuperSoupy


    You don’t know deadline times if you think any of that makes the papers. The paper most likely to cover McD, the Dindo, was already at print.

  • rickvanadder

    “Adams undoubtedly the winner in my book” I think you’ll find that any floating voter in the south who contemplated supporting Adams and the Gang will realize the ineptitude in Sinn Fein policy that’s on offer.
    I think Adams has being found out in relation to his lack of economic understanding, his failure to answer simple question and of course his terrorist leaderships connection with the illegal drug trade.
    I think the republics floating voters will determine from this debate that Adams is good at the prepared speech (to-night not included)but woeful at debating his parties platform or lack their of. It’s not all about political platitudes Gerry, rather the “economy stupid” something Adams and the GANG know very little.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think soupy was probably right to reserve his judgement… I missed the opening statements… what on earth was Gerry doing looking at his notes repeatedly… And Trevor definitely forgot he was talking to the camera and not in a big drafty hall… Still good value all the same…

  • Conal Campbell

    Really, really shocked you would say Gerry Adams won the debate Mick.

    Constantly refused to engage with the issues

    Made a little speech about ‘rights’ about 5 times and Mark Little called him on it

    McDowell really put him to the sword on not knowing RoI politics (which is a notion many here have)

    Said ‘joined up strategy’ about 5 times

    The 2 things that could be said for him were
    1)that he didn’t get drawn into a slagging match at any point.
    2) That he brought up his own issues and stayed on a few key messages.
    But those two saving graces were not in keeping with the way that debate was going and he was clearly a total pariah.

    All in all he reminded me of having a drunk person at a dinner table. People just let him waffle on but didn’t engage with what he was saying because he wasn’t engaging with the issues the other three wanted to talk about.

  • SuperSoupy

    To me the way Adams may have won it was when McDowell referred to the various forms of left. Adams was the only one presenting left politics and social justice. The Greens and Labour were presenting a centralist platform, those voters willing to be influenced by a left agenda heard it from Adams. Those open to influence from the right/centre get FF and FG tomorrow.

    The left swing was up for grabs tonight. Labour in particular left that ground for others. Pity the SP didn’t get time, they are only slightly less supported than the PDs.

  • Mick Fealty


    I don’t think there is an absolute standard for these four. To an extent there is some toing and froing of voters between the three ‘leftist’ parties, but they are mostly fishing in discrete pools with the Greens and Sinn Fein trying to slice margins off the Labour party.

    My judgement in favour of Adams is not simply based on how well he performed, but how well he connected with his core vote. Whilst policy is critical in judging the competence of a government or a potential government, I’m not sure how well it comes across in such a hectic debate to the ordinary punter. Adams led with values, and I just think that will score him points outside ‘anoraksville’.

    Having slept on it, I think the Colombia and the poor grasp of detail, may play larger than I first appreciated – particularly with the middle class voters that the party wants to start slicing into. Though SF are still a small party in the Republic, the numbers they have to swing to make their gains are small. Indeed the polls indicate they are already in the zone.

    They are promising populist measures that they don’t have to cost because even if they get into government this time round they will never get them past their senior partner. They would, as D-C ably points out above, cost an arm and a leg (and possibly the Republic’s economic independence). It may suit them better to sit out this round.

    I sense the economic rights argument works in a British or UK context where the size of the Exchequer in London looks infinite from an Northern Ireland point of view, but independent Ireland has gone through a lot of scrimping, cutting and saving to get to where it is today. To the rising middle classes, I suspect it makes him look like both something of an ingénue and reinforced their sense of him as an outsider. To his core group though, his focus on values rather than getting stuck in the infinite reams of policy detail, his performance may count for rather more.


    Are you talking opinion polls or elective polls, re the SP?

  • Jen

    Rabbitte might have been an impressive debater but we are not in Trinity now.

    Adams’ poor performance might make a difference in that a vote for one of his candidates will have Adams as leader if that candidate gets in.

    It only served to remind me of how I missed watching the best ever episode of Lost again.

    Will Locke survive?