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Martin accepts RTÉ invite to debate on Seanad abolition but Taoiseach not keen

Micheál Martin has accepted an invitation to a head-to-head debate between the party leaders on 1 October but will the Taoiseach?

Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin a RTÉ leaders' debate in 2011
Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin a RTÉ leaders' debate in 2011
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Updated 4.40pm

FIANNA FÁIL HAS said its leader Micheál Martin has accepted an RTÉ invitation to a head-to-head debate on the referendum to abolish the Seanad on 1 October.

While Martin said this morning that he has officially accepted the invitation, Kenny did not appear keen when asked about the matter today.

Speaking to the media in Dundalk today, Kenny is reported to have said that Martin was looking to generate publicity for himself and said it was not a question of leaders deciding on the matter.

A spokesperson for Taoiseach said this afternoon they had “nothing to add” to what Kenny said to reporters in Dundalk.

RTÉ is proposing to host a Prime Time Leaders’ Debate on Tuesday, 1 October and sent out invitations to the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael this week for the debate in front of a live audience.

In a statement, the broadcaster said: “Micheál Martin has today accepted this invitation and we are awaiting a decision from An Taoiseach.

‘Best inform’

“RTÉ Current Affairs felt that Prime Time could best inform the audience with two key programmes of different styles devoted to the subject.

“The first, which has already taken place, involved authored reports and a 4-person panel, and a final debate to involve the two leading political figures on either side of the campaign, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and the Leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin.”

The Taoiseach has said the Dáil, as “the most public forum in the land”, is the place to debate the referendum and quipped on Wednesday that he did not want to embarrass Martin by participating in a TV debate.

Martin said today that he is hopeful that the Taoiseach “may yet realise the importance of a proper public discussion of his proposals”.

The Fianna Fáil leader added: “The only reason for refusal that the Taoiseach has given to date is his fear of causing me embarrassment.

“While that may well be the outcome of the debate, it is no reason to avoid having one in the first place.”

First published 12.33pm and updated at 2.40pm

Read: “I don’t want to embarrass you” – Taoiseach’s excuse for not doing TV debate with Martin

Martin to Taoiseach: Let’s have a TV debate, Enda: Let’s do it at Leaders’ Questions

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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