Saturday 24 March 2018

Voters deserve more respect

DISPUTES between political parties about the staging of election debates are common. But the current dispute in Ireland departs from the norm, because it is essentially between a party leader and a presenter.

Enda Kenny refused to take part in a three-way debate with Eamon Gilmore and Micheal Martin on TV3 because he had fallen out in the past with the presenter, Vincent Browne. The company suggested an alternative, Ursula Halligan. But as bad luck would have it, the Fine Gael leader had a previous engagement.

Mr Kenny has not behaved wisely. The last time round, in a two-way encounter, Fianna Fail claimed that Bertie Ahern "wiped the floor" with him. That was a wild exaggeration. More objective viewers thought he lost narrowly on points. Either way, he should have been eager to take on Messrs Gilmore and Martin and show his steel. When the three do meet, he will not face formidable opposition on the issue of the economy. Mr Martin is stuck with the outgoing Government's four-year plan. Mr Gilmore has asserted, incorrectly, that the governor of the European Central Bank is only a civil servant and that "Labour's way" can prevail over Frankfurt's.

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