Friday 18 August 2017

Ahern-Kenny debate attracts almost one million viewers

Almost one million tuned in last night to watch the live televised debate between the two men vying to become the next Taoiseach.

RTE says the Prime Time debate between Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny attracted an audience of around 941,000 people.

The previous night's debate with the leaders of the smaller parties had an audience of 581,000.

Mr Ahern said today that he was happy with last night's face-off, which he said he used to expose Fine Gael's election contract as a myth.

Finance Minister Brian Cowen also maintained the attack, saying the opposition's pledges don't add up and cutbacks will be needed to pay for the extra 2,300 hospital beds promised by the opposition.

Fine Gael spokesman Denis Naughten, however, is insisting that the pledge can and will be delivered as a priority for any Fine Gael-led administration.

Elsewhere, the Labour Party is dismissing the consensus that Mr Ahern narrowly defeated Mr Kenny in last night's debate.

PD leader Michael McDowell has claimed the debate was "deeply embarrassing" for Mr Kenny, who had to admit that half of the extra 2,000 Gardai he is promising have already been recruited.

However, Labour says the Taoiseach actually looked more like the leader of the opposition than the leader of the Government.

The Greens, meanwhile, say they weren't overly impressed with either man's performance last night, but would still prefer to go into coalition with other opposition parties.

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