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Darragh McManus on radio: And now the end is near... just time for one last debate

 

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(left to right) Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald during the final TV leaders' debate at the RTE studios in Donnybrook, Dublin. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 4, 2020. See PA story IRISH Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

(left to right) Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald during the final TV leaders' debate at the RTE studios in Donnybrook, Dublin. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 4, 2020. See PA story IRISH Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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(left to right) Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald during the final TV leaders' debate at the RTE studios in Donnybrook, Dublin. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 4, 2020. See PA story IRISH Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Into the last week of campaigning in Election 2020 - indeed, by the time you read this it will be polling day, though results won't be known until sometime next week - and so on to the final Leaders' Debate.

Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am) played clips of the participants, right after the TV debate. Mary Lou McDonald described it as "interesting" and "testing". Leo Varadkar said: "Ah yeah, happy enough." Micheál Martin intoned: "That was a very good debate."

Dr Theresa Reidy, from UCC's Department of Government, reckoned the decision to include Mary Lou "worked to the benefit of viewers: it made for a much livelier, better-informed and better-moderated debate. And it presented a broader spectrum of views". However, she added: "There were times where she had difficult moments."

Political journalist Lise Hand also praised the "excellent moderation" which "allowed candidates space to make their opinions, and didn't allow it to descend into a shouting match". And she found it "interesting" that both Martin and Varadkar were "careful not to pile in on Mary Lou, because they'd know how bad the optics might look, with two men and one woman".

On News at One (Radio 1, Mon-Fri), political correspondent Micheál Lehane continued his excellent campaign by examining the final push for votes.

"There's so much at stake for the leaders of the three main parties," he said, "and the dynamic of this election has been unexpected, with the trend towards Sinn Féin."

But, he added: "We know of course that a large proportion of voters only make up their minds on polling day."

So it's still all to play for. The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 9am) looked at some "highly dramatic moments of elections past", and it was a very entertaining nostalgia-fest for political anoraks and civilians alike.

We were reminded of the 2002 election "ending the career of Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan"; Nora Owen describing losing her seat unexpectedly as being "like a sudden death… there was no dignity or humanity in how it was handled tonight"; Vincent Browne's terrier-like attack on Bertie Ahern at an election manifesto launch; John Gormley and Michael McDowell's "withdraw that!/calm down, you're losing it" shouting match on the hustings; and best of all, Enda Kenny's hilarious "All-Ireland champions of whinging here in Castlebar".

A quick nod too to Risteárd's Full Election, playing across Newstalk. Funny stuff, including an amusing dig at their own Ivan Yates, who envisioned himself as the only person present during a debate, where he could "interrupt myself".

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