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Talking up a storm

THEY say be careful what you wish for. The election has begun with a discordant cacophony, but so far the biggest idea of Fianna Fail's new leader is for five TV debates, or more talk.

Whether it is a three or five-way split format for the television cameras is in many ways academic.

There are far more pressing concerns for too many people struggling in this country.

Getting worked up over such an issue is a luxury we can't afford in a country which has more than 440,000 people on the dole.

Micheal Martin's pitch is a little brazen considering the hostility to his party for its failures over the past 13 years, and judging by its dismal position in the opinion polls.

Unlike his predecessors, the newest leader of the Soldiers of Destiny is not even Taoiseach going into battle.

To some, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is running scared, to others he is boxing clever.

Yet he is the holder of the belt in terms of political strength, and therefore it is not up to a rank-outside underdog to demand who gets a shot at his title.

Giving the new political paradigm a bit more humility and an engagement with the prerogatives of public service, rather than the naked pursuit of power, would play better with the public.

But connecting with the public is not something that Fianna Fail is having much luck with just at the moment.

Normally no-one is injured when the starting gun is fired in an election. But Bertie Ahern shot his party's new leader in both feet yesterday.

Unlike Nicolae Ceausescu, three-time Taoiseach Ahern lamented that his chief regret winding down 34 years in the Dail would be that he is departing without a single super-stadium in his wake.

With the IMF now making decisions on how we run our affairs, and the economy in ribbons, one might have felt that Mr Ahern would have other worries.

But no; what bothers him more than all else is that, "states like Qatar and Kuwait have as many as 10 stadiums". So there you have it, after all those years in charge all Mr Ahern ever truly wanted was a level playing pitch.

Irish Independent