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Leaders' Debate

Slideshow: what the papers say about the debates

A round-up of today’s news and front page coverage of last nights five-way leaders’ debate.

THE LEADERS’ DEBATE TAKES precedence in the broadsheets this morning, while the red tops have devoted less front page space to the event.

Generally, the papers suggest Enda Kenny did well last night, although some withhold identifying any single politician as the debate winner.

The Irish Times says there was “no clear winner” and Kenny had a relaxed air and made no errors. It also comments on Gerry Adams’ performance, saying the Sinn Féin leader was better last night than he had been in the 2007 election debate.

The Independent also says there was no clear winner.

While Enda Kenny wasn’t the night’s strongest performer, according to the Independent, but he managed to make it through the debate “unscathed”. The paper rates Micheál Martin highest for leadership ability and Eamon Gilmore highest for substance.

A readers’ poll in the Examiner suggests that Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin tied as winner of the debate, while Kenny is considered the winner by almost a third of the 4,300-plus voters on‘s poll. Gilmore is in second place with 19% of the votes.

Meanwhile, the tabloids appear to give the Fine Gael leader the night’s victory.

Under a headline entitled “So what was all the fuss about, Enda?”, the Daily Mail seems to have forgiven Enda Kenny, saying he delivered an “adept performance” and “stands on the threshold of becoming Taoiseach”, while the Mirror says he won and describes him as “cool, calm and statesmanlike”. The Star says he “held his own”.

The Mirror and the Star also both went with variations of “Kenny do it? Yes he can” as their headlines.

However, the Sun says Kenny’s performance was ‘wooden’ and that he failed to face up to his rivals. The paper adds that Micheál Martin came under most pressure in the debate.

The Star suggest that Labour scored some political points last night, saying Eamon Gilmore “soared with bruising attacks” on Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams.

Meanwhile, there were  some Valentine’s Day overtures were in the air, as Gormley congratulated Enda on his performance, and Paul Gogarty tweeted that an FG/Green coalition could be on the cards.

Today’s front pages:

Slideshow: what the papers say about the debates
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POLL: Who do you think won last night’s leaders’ debate? >

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