Joan and Gerry flunk Irish language debate, Enda says no thanks to Micheál…

Really, I’m not joking. Honestly, one minute there was going to be a four way debate. Now, at the very last minute, there’s not even going to be one.  And here’s how it happened, blow by blow according to the Irish Times…

…the proposal ran to ground after Labour offered Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a fluent speaker, as a substitute, and Sinn Féin suggestedPearse Doherty, a native speaker from Gweedore in the Donegal Gaeltacht.

The proposal was not acceptable to Fianna Fáil which argued that a leaders’ debate should be confined to leaders alone.

As an alternative the party suggest a two-way debate between Mr Martin andMr Kenny.

Fine Gael said the Taoiseach had always been amenable to a four-way, or to a seven-way debate. A spokeswoman said yesterday that when TG4 said that neither was possible, no other alternative was put forward by the broadcaster.

It’s not a surprise that Joan’s Irish is not up to the mark, nor even Gerry’s committed but limited Gaoltacht blas.  Most striking is Enda’s unwillingness to take on Micheál Martin in a TV debate that’s likely to have a very limited demographic impact on the election overall.

Perhaps it reflects nervousness over the party’s position across the west where any such debate is mostly likely to have an impact. We are down to a race in which absolutely every last unpredictable seat is going to be fought house by house, street by street, and clachan ar gclachan

Here’s what we’re getting instead…

The new arrangement will involve searching one-on-one interviews with Mr Kenny and Mr Martin, followed by a segment involving Mr Ó Ríordáin and Mr Doherty.

Sources in TG4 said the outcome was disappointing but it was the only realistic option it had, once two parties suggested substitutes.

Hmmm…