MARTIN MCGUINNESS has shared his belief that he was treated unfairly during Wednesday night’s presidential debate on RTÉ’s Prime Time.
Addressing an audience of young people at a wide-ranging debate organised by SpunOut.ie on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin, McGuinness said he was “disappointed in the way Prime Time debate was handled” by moderator Miriam O’Callaghan.
“Yes, absolutely; I thought it was unfair,” he said, having been asked if he was frustrated at how each had been treated by the media over the course of the campaign.
Mary Davis concurred that she was disappointed with how she was treated, while Sean Gallagher said he was “disappointed with the tone” of the coverage of the campaign so far.
David Norris refused to give a ‘yes or no’ answer to the question, but remarked, “If I’m not elected the ninth president of Ireland, theyll bloody soon find out how I feel”. Michael D Higgins said he would recommend “a period of reflection” after the election.
Earlier in the debate, McGuinness had said he wished “to be a president who speaks out and who is prepared to shine a light on those issues which are of concern,” pointing to Sinn Féin’s gender balanced representation in Stormont.
“I would be someone who is prepared to speak out, and not sit tamely in the Áras and be subjected to the restrictions of the establishment or the powers that be,” he said.
Michael D Higgins said Ireland should accept it was “making a new tapestry” but that if Ireland was serious about inclusion, it needed to embrace that inclusion was “not just about tolerance, inclusion is about full equality”.
“That means feeling the freedom to listen and to incorporate other stories… and that includes people from different traditions north and south aswell,” he said.
Asked about her campaign posters, Mary Davis again denied her photo had been “airbrushed”, instead attributing her photograph to having her hair and make-up done, with good lighting and good photography.
“I would love to get up every morning and look like I do in the poster,” Davis joked, before acknowledging the “serious question in relation to women in general, and the commodification of women.
David Norris told the attendees he was particularly worried about the absence of a national sexual health strategy, commenting that when he had commission ed leaflets encouraging sexual health, it was considered illegal.
“I think people should tell the truth, take the bit of courage – if necessary, undermine compliance! Get it done, because it’s your lives, and tell the truth about human sexuality – which has never been done in this country, by the Church or by the State,” Norris forcefully asserted.
Sean Gallagher told the audience he wished to visit every secondary school in the country, only to be asked whether this would be “a waste of his time” given his plans to entice investment and tourism to Ireland.
Gallagher said there was “nobody else in this race” who understood enterprise in the way he did, saying his main wish would be to ensure that each young person in Ireland could realistically hope to have a job.
Neither Dana Rosemary Scallon nor Gay Mitchell attended today’s debate, as both were canvassing in other parts of the country.
The entire SpunOut.ie debate can be watched here: