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The unasked question in the leaders' debate

We had the chance to assess the five heads of the main political parties at the start of the week – but how did the audience

Image: Alexander Henning Drachmann via Flickr

WE ALL HAD our opinions on who won the five-way leaders’ debate on Valentine’s Night (it’s pretty evens-stevens between at least three of the leaders in readers’ poll).

But what did those “undecideds” in the RTE studio audience that night – carefully chosen by market research company Millward Brown Lansdowne –  think of it all? Did seeing the five leaders up close and personal, and getting to ask them questions, help those floating voters to make up their mind who would get their first preference?

Six audience members got a chance to ask a question – Dave C Robinson, from Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, had been next in line with his question. The debate ran out of time just before moderator Pat Kenny got to him. He told

We had been asked to come up with questions in three areas; politics, the economy, and the health system. The question of mine that was picked was about private depositors’ money. You have people putting their savings in institutions from outside the country now like Rabobank, Deutsche Bank and the like, deposits under €100,000 that are not covered by the State guarantee.

I wanted to ask: What can you as a leader say to those poeple to stop that money going out and encourage people to keep their money in Irish financial institutions?

Robinson says that what he had approached the debate with the view that he wanted to see which of the leaders showed “honesty, credibility, leadership”.

If I had gotten to ask my question, I would have been looking for a one-line answer. The person who would have said: Okay lads, we know it’s bad, but it will be better in five years’ time and until then we need your support to keep the banks open and working.

Robinson’s verdict on the debate?

On the night I thought, none of these guys is standing out. We need someone to step above the bickering. I am 50 now – what this next government does is going to affect the rest of my life.

While he feels some “clarity” has emerged this week on individual policies, Robinson said:

After the debate itself, I thought, If I was a floating voter, nothing I heard on that night would help me decide my vote.

Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore and Michéal Martin will get one last chance to try and impress the country’s electorate in a three-way debate next Tuesday night on RTE1 at 9.35pm.

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