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Are these two men fighting the real battle of the next election?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

A somewhat unexpected debate between the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin graced our airwaves yesterday morning. It was a taste of what’s to come in the leaders’ TV debates next year and demonstrated why the battle of the opposition parties will be just as interesting as the battle to be in government.

Irish General Election Source: Julien Behal

Aside from their red ties, the only other thing Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams have in common is that neither of them want to govern with Fine Gael after the next election – or so they say. If that really is the case then, on current polls, this makes it unlikely that either of them will be in government. So the battle is to win as many seats as possible to become the strongest opposition party.

The two leaders really slugged it out on the Morning Ireland yesterday and there will be a lot more of that in the months to come. One Fianna Fáil councillor told us last night he was punching the air with delight as Martin landed verbal blows on Adams. But, unsurprisingly, the Sinn Féin leader had his own party faithful loving it.

That’s why Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin’s battle for voters’ hearts and minds could be more interesting than any other at the next election.

The agenda 

  • 10.30am: The cabinet holds its weekly meeting at Government Buildings. 
  • 11.30am: Fianna Fáil launches its long-awaited health policy. 
  • 11.30am: Fintan Slye, the chief executive of Eirgrid, who has no issue living next to a pylon, talks about he North South Interconnector with the Transport Committee. 
  • 2.30pm: Young Fine Gael launches its campaign for a Yes vote across the roas from Leinster House. 
  • 3.15pm: It’s the first Leaders’ Questions of the week in the Dáil. 
  • 3.30pm: The banking inquiry has a private meeting ahead of the beginning of its next phase tomorrow. 
  • After 5.30pm: The report stage of the long-awaited Legal Services Bill is before the Dáil. 
  • 7.30pm: Fianna Fáil has a private members’ motion calling for more social protection supports for self-employed people and an end to the disparity in the tax treatment of entrepreneurs and PAYE workers. 

What the others are saying 

  • Fianna Fáil would spend an extra €450 million annually on the health service if returned to government after the next election, several papers report. 
  • The broadcasting charge is to be delayed until after the next election, says the Irish Independent
  • The same paper also reports that Health Minister Leo Varadkar has revealed he had no health insurance cover until last week having let it lapse in recent years. 

Inside Leinster House

Richard Boyd Barrett, the People Before Profit TD, paid a visit to TheJournal.ie yesterday and we just had to ask about his reputation for shouting and roaring when he’s speaking in the Dáil chamber. Here’s what he told us.

Source: Video: Paul Hosford/TheJournal.ie

In case you missed it 

On the Twitter machine

Expect lots of tweets like this over the next few weeks.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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