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Gormley offers to fill Kenny's shoes on TV3 leaders' debate

The Greens’ leader says he wants to be “helpful” – but he too thinks a five-way debate is the best option.

GREEN PARTY LEADER John Gormley has said he will take Enda Kenny’s empty seat in tomorrow’s televised debate on TV3.

A statement from Gormley says that he has sent a letter to the debate organisers telling them that “in an effort to be helpful” he would step in as a last-minute replacement for Enda Kenny. He said he had written to the TV3 management setting out his offer.

Enda Kenny confirmed at the weekend that he wouldn’t be participating in the first leaders’ debate, blaming scheduling difficulties for his absence. However, he had previously said that he would not appear on any programme that had broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne involved in it because of a remark Browne made in relation to suicide and Kenny stepping aside last September. (The BAI threw out complaints about that comment in their report which was published on Friday, saying that Browne had apologised for the remark and the issue had been dealt with).

Vincent Browne told Ryan Tubridy on 2fm this morning that he believed Kenny was using him as a “ploy to get out of debates”.

Enda Kenny had suggested that his empty chair on the TV3 three-way debate should remain empty to symbolise all those who had emigrated from Ireland because of “the incompetence and reckless management” of the economy of Fianna Fail.

Kenny had also previously expressed his preference for a five-way leaders’ debate which would be attended also by the Greens and Sinn Fein’s leaders. In his statement today, John Gormley says that while he would stand in for Kenny in tomorrow’s debate, he still argued that a “five-way leaders’ debate was the best way for voters to know precisely who and what they were being asked to support”. He said:

I have pointed out that in the last three elections people from parties other than Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour have held senior ministries making decisions which affected people’s daily lives. Since something similar could very well happen after February 25, hearing from all five leaders on the same footing is the best way of dealing with this.

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