Dave Ryan reports on some hot debating action.
Friday night saw the first proper televised debate between all seven presidential candidates, on the Late Late Show. Rather than give a blow-by-blow account, I’m going to rate each candidate’s performance individually, giving them a star rating from 0-5. Here goes nothing:
Mary Davis- Of all seven candidates, Davis came off the least likeable. An air of condescension abounded as she talked to Ryan. She claims that her greatest skill to bring to the job was leadership, but to be fair, it is assumed all candidates should have this quality. She leaned so heavily on her role in organising the Special Olympics you’d swear she’d done the entire thing herself, including build the stage for the opening ceremony. Some people say it feels like she’s attempting to guilt people into a vote, as if voting against her is a vote against the Special Olympics. She awkwardly dodged the question of Presidential salary, making it seem as if she’s hoping to get the full wage. She also failed to adequately respond to claims that despite not being an elected politician, her membership of many boards of directors makes her a de facto politician. Also did not take the opportunity to address concerns over how involved her “mentor” Dennis O’ Brien is in her campaign, or concerns over her campaign funding in general. Verdict: *
Gay Mitchell- It appears that Gay Mitchell might be the most boring man to ever run for public office. His desperately dull opening pitch made me hope Jedward were going to come back out. ‘Committee’ was evidently yesterday’s word of the day. As the nominee for the biggest party in the Oireachtas, one would have hoped to see him cut a commanding figure, or show an ounce of charisma. His attempts to attack Martin McGuinness came off as very bitter, accusing him of name-dropping Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles. His criticism was completely derailed by the fact that he said there are 22 counties in the Republic. Hard luck, Longford. Verdict: **
Seán Gallagher- I will say this for the man, he is wonderfully enthusiastic about this job. Aside from that I can’t really say much about him. Has great ideas for enterprise in Ireland, but with no legislative powers, that’s going to be quite tricky. Was open about past association with Fianna Fáil but did not answer adequately when asked why he is distancing himself now. Verdict: also-ran
Dana Rosemary Scallon- In a word: insane. In three words: totally batshit crazy. The only candidate to use props this evening, Dana produced a copy of the European Constitution, and repeatedly claimed that she will keep Europe out. I’d love to see how she would do that. Seemed to suggest that Europe has never been anything but bad news for us. Yeah, those structural funds and all that free trade is a pain in the arse. Said ‘I don’t know’ far too much for an allegedly serious candidate. When all candidates were asked about breaking the seal of confession in instances of child abuse, she was the only one who seemed to be strongly against it, which should surprise no one. Seemed completely out of her depth when asked any sort of serious political questions. She was also not asked about same sex marriage and adoption rights (the only candidate not to be asked if I remember correctly. Curious…) Verdict: minus more stars than there are stars in the Universe
Martin McGuinness- Say what you want about Martin McGuinness, the man has been coming off the most Presidential out of all the candidates this week. Last night was no exception, as he took every opportunity to point out his achievements in politics and diplomacy, particularly in bringing peace to the North. His main problem being that, although he insists he has not been an IRA member since 1974, people don’t buy it. Likely with good reason. Verdict: ***
David Norris- Norris’ agitated appearance on the Radio One debate could have done serious damage to him had he continued his campaign in that manner. Though he shouted loudest of all on this particular evening, he also argued, somewhat fairly, that most of the public have let this letters issue go, and it’s mainly now an issue the media will not let go of (Hello, Daily Mail). That said, most politicos would still like a bit more clarity on this controversy, not matter how much it irks him. He answered the question about the seal of confession better than anybody. If he can get some momentum going between now and the next debate, the race will be very interesting Verdict: ***
Michael D. Higgins- The favourite for the job coming into the night, Michael D. Will be happy with his performance. He won’t have increased his share of the poll, but the people who intend to vote or him will be further convinced by the man, who out of all candidates, shows the greatest understanding of the limits of the office of the Presidency. As we’ve said from the beginning though, age is always going to be the defining issue for him. You would not guess that he is only 3 years older than David Norris. Age is not so much the problem, it’s the act that he looks like he’s a 70-year-old man. He told the story of how he fell in Columbia and hurt his leg badly last year, the goal being to assure people he bounces back. But all this will do for some people is tell them that if he falls again, he may not get back up. Verdict: ***1/2
Ryan Tubridy- As moderator, he kept the discussion civilized for the most part, but Tubridy seems to polite to ask the really tough questions and go in for the kill. I for one believe Vincent Browne should be legally required to moderate every debate for every election into perpetuity. But that’s just me. Verdict: meh.
And to finish off, here’s a collection of some of our live Twitter coverage of the debate:
@PaudiMcTurkish: I’ve seen more lively debates at Student Union hustings
@daveryaniv: Changing the name of the fancy house you live in doesn’t make you seem like ‘one of us’ Mary
@PaudiMcTurkish: My brother “Sure Johnny Logan won the Eurovision twice, he should run”.
@shannairl: Quote of the week, David Norris: “I’ve done it with Pat Kenny”. Rather you than me, love
@PaudiMcTurkish: Fair play Norris lad. He’s done it with everyone
@daveryanIV: Has there been some sort of four-county breakaway since the 9 o clock news that only gay Mitchell knows about?
@PaudiMcTurkish: The MDH concert. A riveting affair with lots of poetry I hope
@daveryanIV: There’s a joke about McGuinness, fundraising, and northern banks that I’m too lazy to make.
@PaudiMcTurkish: Dana pandering to the Robert Kilroy-Silk in all of us
@daveryanIV: New slogan idea “Vote Dana No. 1. Why? I don’t know”
@PaudiMcTurkish: The Sean Gallagher transition year module. There goes another reason NOT to do it
@daveryanIV: I wonder who thinks about what ads to put on during this show? “Hey debate fans, Twilight’s on on Wednesday.”
@PaudiMcTurkish: Dana has the experience to defend our sovereignty? Surely McGuinnes would have more eh practical experience!
@daveryanIV: Person on politics.ie “what illness did Michael D. have recently?”, someone replies “Socialism, its long term I’m afraid
@daveryanIV: How is Dana going to defend our sovereignity? A fucking sword?
@PaudiMcTurkish: Jesus, Dana is sounding like Declan Ganley
@daveryanIV: She says that her experience in fighting off EU is involvement against Nice Treaty. That went fantastically as I recall.
@PaudiMcTurkish: So much red!!!! Mary you Bolshevik!!!
@daveryanIV: Mary Davis’ speech is brought to you courtesy of Bank of Ireland.
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