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Sinn Fein claims Enda Kenny ‘scared’ to debate fiscal treaty

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is running scared after refusing to take part in a televised debate about the fiscal treaty with Gerry Adams, according to Sinn Fein.

With just three weeks until polling day, Mr Kenny ruled out appearing on TV3, saying he would not take part in a programme moderated by journalist Vincent Browne.

But Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty said the Taoiseach had a duty to the public to argue his case for a Yes vote in the referendum.

Mr Doherty said: "I think it's disappointing that the Taoiseach is running scared from a debate with Sinn Fein. He needs to put aside his petty differences with TV3 or any presenter."

Mr Kenny also declined to attend a debate for political party leaders on the channel in the run-up to the general election of 2011.

This came after veteran journalist Mr Browne was forced to apologise the previous year for remarking that the Fine Gael leader should go into a dark room with a revolver and a bottle of whiskey.

Fine Gael lodged an official complaint with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland about the remark.

Neither the Taoiseach or Mr Adams have yet taken part in a televised discussion on whether Ireland should vote to adopt the stability treaty on May 31.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Adams, Mr Doherty added: "If he really believes in the measures of this treaty, then he has a duty to debate that with Sinn Fein."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, who has joined Mr Kenny on the pro-treaty side, challenged the leading No campaigner to their own debate but Mr Adams is yet to take him up on his offer.

Mr Doherty said: "Enda Kenny is the Taoiseach. He is in government. He is leading the state. He is the person who has signed this treaty and has an onus to stand up and debate with the leader of the No side."

While the Taoiseach turned down the chance to appear on a Vincent Browne debate, he insisted he would be willing face the Sinn Fein leader in a different setting.

Mr Kenny said: "I have debates with Deputy Adams on Tuesday and on Wednesdays.

"I am very happy to debate with Deputy Adams but I do not do the Vincent Browne programme."

TV3's Mr Browne hosted the first live treaty debate last week, with Fianna Fail's Mr Martin and Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney on the Yes side and Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald and Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins on the No.