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'It went down badly on the doorstep': Taoiseach's decision not to debate criticised

Enda Kenny’s decision to decline to participate in television debates during the Seanad referendum campaign has been criticised today.

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY’s decision not to participate in a televised debate during the Seanad abolition referendum campaign has been criticised by No campaigners today.

In the wake of the likely defeat of the referendum, the No campaigners have taken aim at Kenny’s decision to decline invitations to debate abolition on RTÉ and TV3.

Sinn Féin, who wanted a Yes vote, also said that Kenny’s decision not to debate was “a mistake”

Some government TDs continued to make the point today that no Taoiseach has ever done a televised debate for a referendum of this nature.

But Democracy Matters campaigner Michael McDowell pinpointed Kenny’s declaration that Seanad abolition was his “personal initiative” and said he should have debated it.

McDowell told the media at Dublin Castle this afternoon: “The real question is that when he brought it to the people why did it cease to be a personal leadership initiative? Why didn’t he lead when the Yes side required him to lead? That’s a matter for him to consider.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that Kenny’s decision to decline two TV debates on RTÉ and TV3 did not go down well with people “on the doorstep”.

He said: “Well I think his decision not to debate went down very badly with people.

“Anecdotally, on the doorstep, meeting people around, people were not happy with the idea that the leader of the country who puts forward a very significant amendment to the Constitution… is not prepared to debate it.”

He said that sent “a very bad message”.

LIVEBLOG: Government hasn’t conceded defeat yet but Seanad looks set to stay

Read: He won’t do any TV debates but here’s Enda Kenny’s pre-referendum message

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Hugh O'Connell

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