Saturday 18 November 2017

Report cards: How the leaders scored

Compiled by Niall O’Connor

How the leaders scored in the final debate.

Enda Kenny - Fine Gael

CONTENT

Sold the simplest message of the night – and then sold it again and again. The Taoiseach’s refrain that “every single worker will benefit from Fine Gael’s tax plan was easily digestible for voters. Dealt with issues such as housing and variable rates – calling on Bank of Ireland to pass on rate cuts to customers. But his grasp of health once again left a lot to be desired.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

CHARISMA

Failed to land any major blows. Stepped back at moments and allowed the other three leaders to engage in angry exchanges. Overall, he adopted a courteous, respectful and statesmanlike approach to the debate. But in a major blunder, he lost his words when asked about the John McNulty appointment.

SCORE: 2 out of 5

CREDIBILITY

Dealt with the issue of his ‘whinger’ comments quickly and effectively. Immediately accepted that the recovery has not been felt by everyone before highlighting the Government’s achievements in housing and planning. Failed to answer simple questions about Universal Health Insurance. Was also caught out by Miriam O’Callaghan on the disproportionate impact his party’s USC proposals have on low earning couples, compared to those earning above €100,000.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

Michéal Martin - Fianna Fáil

CONTENT

Landed one of the strongest punches of the debate when unravelling Sinn Féin’s tax proposals and the “devastating” impact they would have on people on modest incomes. He also successfully introduced the issue of mental health and criticised the Coalition’s record.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

CHARISMA

The inability of the presenter and the other leaders to damage his reputation by exposing his record in the last government is illustrative of the successful campaign he has enjoyed. His party gained further momentum.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

CREDIBILITY

Managed to deal with attacks over his record as Health Minister. He turned the debate around to the Government’s own health record, criticising Leo Varadkar and James Reilly. However, he was accused of “driving the bus off a cliff” and had to desperately deny his role in events leading to the crash. Also had to defend appointment of Celia Larkin to a State board.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

Joan Burton - Labour

CONTENT

Was particularly strong on housing. Highlighted the manner in which the Government has tackled ghost estates while expressing sympathy with families who are homeless. Ms Burton exposed the flaws of Sinn Féin’s USC policy, pointing out that people on very low incomes would see no benefit in terms of tax cuts. But the Tánaiste failed to address straight questions on mental health.

SCORE: 4 out of 5

CHARISMA

Less frenetic performance than the last two debates and dealt with the issue of the “overuse” of her hands. Ms Burton came out fightingand entered into a rhythm in the second part of the debate, landing several blows. But it may not be enough to rescue Labour from electoral disaster.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

CREDIBILITY

Drew heavily from her own record as Social Protection Minister, pointing out immediately that she ensured all core benefits were protected. Scored points against Sinn Féin by accusing developers linked to the party of trying to secure favours from councillors. Weak on health and particularly mental health.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

Gerry Adams  - Sinn Fein

CONTENT

The Louth TD’s star moment was highlighting the plights of vulnerable people and the scale of the waiting lists for X-ray services in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda yesterday. But Mr Adams was extremely weak on the party’s USC proposals

SCORE: 2 out of 5

CHARISMA

Appeared uncomfortable when asked about his past, insisting that he does not dissociate himself from the IRA. His attempt once again to highlight the salaries of RTÉ presenters backfired when it was pointed out he collected expenses when serving as an MP. But his amusing references to the ‘Three Amigos’ will endear him to voters.

SCORE: 4 out of 5

CREDIBILITY

From the €1m he collected in expenses as an MP to his relationship with Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, his credibility was attacked from all fronts. Looked foolish when he had to ask the Taoiseach “Who is Senator Cahill?”. While he managed to deal comfortably with questions on the IRA, Mr Adams was forced to defend his decision to travel to the US to access health care. He claimed that a “friend” paid for an operation that was not available in Ireland.

SCORE: 1 out of 5

Irish Independent

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