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Leo and Micheál to go head-to-head in Pat Kenny TV debate this Wednesday

It comes after a Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll put Fianna Fáil on 32% of the vote.

Image: Rollingnews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin will go head-to-head this Wednesday in the first televised leaders’ debate of the general election campaign. 

The 75-minute debate between the two leaders will air live on Virgin Media One on Wednesday at 9.30pm and will be moderated by Pat Kenny. 

It comes after a Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll put Fianna Fáil on 32% of the vote with Fine Gael languishing behind on just 20% support. In the previous poll, both parties were neck and neck. 

Speaking to reporters yesterday, the Taoiseach said: “I think the opinion poll demonstrates that there is a real risk a real danger that we haven’t seen before that government after the next election.

“And I would really hate to see that happen because it would mean the country falling backwards. And we know what happens every time Fianna Fáil gets into power, it ends badly. It ends with a boom and a bust at ends with unemployment and what else having to wave our friends off at airports when they’re forced to emigrate.”

The Fianna Fáil leader, meanwhile, said yesterday that his party had made mistakes in the past but that he and his colleagues have learned from those mistakes.

The poll – published by the Sunday Times – was conducted with 923 face-to-face interviews between 2-14 January. The election was called by Varadkar on 14 January. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.3%.

The poll comes after a tumultuous start to 2020 for the government, after the sustained criticism over the planned RIC commemoration and the trolley crisis in hospitals reaching record levels. 

For Fianna Fáil it’s a timely boost less than three weeks out from the general election on Saturday 8 February.

Virgin Media One will also host a multi-party Leaders’ Debate moderated by Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates on Thursday 30 January.

The leaders of the seven main political parties have been invited to take part in the debate. 

RTÉ, meanwhile, is set to broadcast two live debates in the run up to the general election, but Sinn Féin has claimed the broadcaster has “fail[ed] to live up to its responsibilities” as one of the debates will feature just Fine Gael leader Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Martin. 

The heads of the two largest parties are set to set to clash on Prime Time on 4 February while The Claire Byrne Live Leaders Debate a week earlier will feature the leaders of a number of political parties debate in front of a live audience.

Party leaders will also face Bryan Dobson in a series of interviews to be broadcast at 7pm on RTÉ One throughout the campaign.

With reporting by Sean Murray

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