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TV3 outlines plans for leaders’ election debate

The commercial broadcaster wants to hold a three-way leaders’ debate, with the heads of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour.

The UK had its first three-way leaders' debate last year: now Ireland seems set to have its own debate involving the three main party leaders.
The UK had its first three-way leaders' debate last year: now Ireland seems set to have its own debate involving the three main party leaders.
Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

TV3 HAS UNVEILED plans for its first ever leaders’ election debate, saying its proposals have the blessing of all the political parties.

The plan, which comes after a year of discussions with representatives from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, will see the leaders of the current Dáil’s three largest parties square off against each other at an event “early in the General Election campaign”.

The other parties, including Sinn Féin and the Green Party, would be “facilitated with airtime during the campaign on Tonight with Vincent Browne”, the broadcaster said in a statement.

The formula and running of the debate had, TV3 added, been derived from the standing orders of the Dáil, so as to ensure the fair allocation of time among the three leaders, and were to be finalised with party representatives.

TV3′s director of election coverage, Bob Hughes, said it was “in the national interest that viewers should be fully informed about party policies during the election campaign and form a judgment on our potential future Taoisigh”.

He added that the broadcaster wanted to give each party leader “an opportunity to debate the most serious issues affecting the country in a fair and impartial forum”.

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The debate, if hosted early in the campaign, would become the first televised leaders’ debate in Ireland to include the leader of the Labour Party alongside those of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, who traditionally have been the only participants in a head-to-head TV debate.

The press statement comes after the Sunday Business Post yesterday reported that Sky News’ Adam Boulton was keen to host a leaders’ debate in Ireland, while TG4 also wished to hold an event.

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Gavan Reilly

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