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The first leaders' debate: reactions to Enda Kenny's absence

Round-up of Twitter and tabloid reactions to the Fine Gael leader’s refusal to take part in the first leaders’ debate tonight on TV3.

THE FIRST TELEVISED LEADERS’ debate kicks off tonight at 8pm on TV3 – without Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny.

After last week saying he would not participate in any programme involving the co-host of tonight’s debate Vincent Browne, Kenny confirmed on Sunday that he would not be able to attend because of his schedule.

He said earlier that his empty chair should serve as a symbol to represent all of those people forced to emigrate from Ireland due to Fianna Fáil’s “incompetence and reckless management” of the economy.

Kenny’s decision not to attend the debate was criticised by Vincent Browne, who said yesterday that he had been “used as a ploy” by Kenny to get out of the debate.

Kenny’s critics have accused him of being afraid to debate Martin and Gilmore.

On Saturday, former director of communications with New Labour Alastair Campbell said that Kenny would be better off to engage in a debate, rather than boycott it. He blogged on Saturday: “If Kenny becomes Ireland’s new PM, as many of the polls suggest he will, he will have to deal with far worse people than Browne”.

The Guardian writes today that Kenny won’t change his schedule to suit the debate, despite suggestions that he is on a “chicken run” in refusing to join in.

Economist and Leviathan host David McWilliams has offered to chair an independent debate, according to the Guardian. The next debate, involving leaders from the five main political parties, will take place on Monday, 14 February, on RTÉ.

Here’s a round-up of some of the reactions to Kenny’s absence from tonight’s debate:

The first leaders' debate: reactions to Enda Kenny's absence
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    The Irish Sun
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