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Micheál Martin wants a live TV showdown with Enda Kenny... but will the Taoiseach do it?

Fianna Fáil has approached Claire Byrne Live about facilitating a debate between the two party leaders.

Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny at a Prime Time debate before the last general election
Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny at a Prime Time debate before the last general election
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA

FIANNA FÁIL IS seeking a live TV debate between its leader Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the wake of Joan Burton and Gerry Adams’s head-to-head on Claire Byrne Live last Monday night.

The party has asked RTÉ to facilitate a debate between Martin and the Fine Gael leader although no formal invitations have been issued to either party.

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson said such a debate was only fair in the wake of the smaller government and opposition parties, Labour and Sinn Féin, debating each other on Monday night.

The Taoiseach has been notoriously reluctant to participate in live TV debates since he was elected in 2011.

He was widely-criticised for failing to take part in any debates during the Seanad referendum campaign in 2013, including turning down an invite to a Prime Time debate.

Last Monday’s Clare Byrne Live programme featured a half-hour of debate between the Labour and Sinn Féin leaders with audience contributions throughout.

Fianna Fáil said that it is more than willing to participate in a debate with Kenny.

However no formal invitation has been issued to either of the two party leaders as yet, it is understood.

A spokesperson for Kenny declined to be drawn on what the response would be if the Taoiseach received an invite from RTÉ. But they added:

“Fianna Fáil have no policies, so what are they debating us on?”

RTÉ said that it is ”dedicated to giving all of the parties fair treatment” and did not rule out the prospect of organising a debate between Martin and Kenny.

However, a spokesperson added: “But there’s lots of different ways of covering politics.”

Analysis: Gerry Adams just got the better of Joan Burton on last night’s Claire Byrne Live

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Hugh O'Connell

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