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Kenny 'not happy' with live TV debate challenge

ENDA Kenny is baulking at the idea of a series of head-to-head debates with Micheal Martin.

The Fine Gael leader is "a little fazed" by the new Fianna Fail boss's immediate challenge to at least three live television debates.

Labour's Eamon Gilmore immediately welcomed the offer last night but Fine Gael said that Mr Martin was shying away from doorsteps in favour of TV screens.

TV3 are delighted with the proposal from Taoiseach Brian Cowen's successor at the helm of Fianna Fail.

A station source said that Vincent Brown is likely to host the debate but Political Editor Ursula Halligan could also be involved.

Miriam O'Callaghan hosted the RTE debate between Mr Kenny and Bertie Ahern in the build-up to the 2007 election and is favourite to do so again.

Immediately after his election yesterday, Mr Martin wrote a letter to the main opposition leaders asking for a debate schedule that would involve TV3, TG4 and RTE.

In response to the challenge, a Fine Gael spokesman said: "It is understandable that Mr Martin wants to be in a debate environment rather than meeting the public."

A Fine Gael source told the Herald: "Everybody knows that Enda isn't the best in front of the cameras and it's clear that Fianna Fail are trying to exploit that.

"But we'll focus on the policies. He can take it to us on the TV, we'll take it to the people on the doorsteps, where it really matters."