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First Leader's Debate General Election 2016

TV3's General Election Televised debate was watched by 425,000 viewers, TV3's most watched show so far this year. The first debate of the election with 3 more to follow. The next will be on RTÉ One live from Limerick, followed by TG4 and then the final show down on RTÉ One. The main parties debated their policies for the next 5 years and in some cases beyond. Fianna Fail just launched its manifesto, and Paddy Power had the first Election Campaign Poll. Showing Fine Gael at 30%, Labour at 8%, Fianna Fail at 18%, Sinn Fein at 17% Other Parties at 9% and Independents at 16%. The Debate was broadcast live on TV3 and Newstalk from the Virgin Media's HD Studio's in Dublin at 9pm.

The debate produced no out right winner

Catch up with the Debate on the TV3 Player

Opening Statements

Collette Fitzpatrick and Pat Kenny introduce the Leaders Debate. This is Vote 2016.

The opening statements of each of the party leaders where brief. They didn't say anything substantial. All failed to really get any points scored. Joan Burton was first to speak, having won the drawing of the lots! She spoke about her upbringing in working class Dublin and her wish to give every child the same opportunities and that Ireland was a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Enda Kenny was on point and it was a Fine Gael election campaign leaflet. He thanked viewers for their hard work and he wanted their trust to continue to rebuild public services, to bring home Ireland's young people but he said the job was far from over.

The Fianna Fail Leader, Micheal Martin, was next to speak. He warned of the current cliches coming from government parties and that the country had no plan to deal with current crises and that we need to plan.

Gerry Adams took to the stand and asked voters to think of the recklessness of the other parties in this debate. The was on the same page as Joan Burton saying that Ireland was the best place for people to grow up and old in and it was his wish to keep it that way.

Questions and Answers

The questions and answers part of the debate was taken by both presenters. At one point during Colette Fitzpatrick's questioning Pat Kenny interjected telling the politicians to stop talk over each other. A slight blip from both presenters with one defending the other.

The Economy

The debated started on the Economy. Coming from the last 5 years of austerity from the government.

Enda Kenny was first to answer Pat Kenny's questions. Enda reiterated FG's plans to remove the Universal Social Charge (USC). He says both government parties have discussed how they can do this, he told votes those that earn most will pay most.

Gerry Adam was next for Sinn Fein. His first priority was to remove both the property and water taxes. Saying that he would retain the USC and put the money is to proper public services.

He was attacked by the others on Sinn Fein's use of rates in Northern Ireland.

Joan Burton continue the attach on SF during her answer, saying that SF would only remove those under 19,000 from USC. She advised she'd be through difficult elections but advised voters that Labour will offer more employment and continue to bring unemployment down. Over the next 5 years the USC would be abolished.

FF's Micheal Martin argued that it was the self employed that were creating jobs and not politicians and he wanted to see those people taking risks brought into line with PAYE workers.

Enda Kenny finished by saying FG would return immigrants and would increase the public service by 10,000.

Health

Colette Fitzpatrick took the debate to health and asked about trolleys and waiting times.

Joan Burton blamed Micheal Martin on the HSE who had created and managed current the system. She told voters that Labour's plan for more primary care facilities would continue. Saying that there where now 60 around the country, with treatments dealt with in those centres. And more Primary Care Facilities would be used to free up more hospital beds.

Enda Kenny tells Micheal Martin that he ran away from the Department of Health. Micheal Martin tells Enda he has a brass neck, both Joan and Enda ask about his time in health, Enda Kenny continues to interrupt. Micheal Martin talks about his success in the department like cardiovascular and cancer care and the smoking ban. Colette Fitzpatrick ask about a FG/FG coalition with an FF health minister. They all talk over each other. With Pat Kenny weighing into stop them.

On the issue surround the remove of medical cards from people with disabilities and life time illnesses Enda Kenny said it was regrettable.

Gerry Adams wants a progressive universal health care service, saying that billions given to bank could have been used effectively for health.

Joan Burton commends Micheal Martin on Smoking Ban, while condemning DUP health policy in the North.

Pat Kenny took the debate to a break asking viewers to consider that Irish public spending on health was second highest to the US.

Crime and Security

Crime and Security was next with Gerry Adam's hounded by Pat Kenny on the Special Criminal Court. A court with no jury in instances were the life of jurors could be at risk.

Gerry Adams explained his position saying that every citizen should be given a jury of their peers and said the issue was a distraction from the crime policies put forward by the last government which saw the closure of 144 garda stations.

Joan Burton piped up saying that the government had introduced 1,100 new guards and 500 in training with the re-opening of Tullamore.

Joan Burton says that SF wanted witness protection programmes for juries and such a system would not work in Ireland.

Micheal Martin attacked SF on IRA kangaroo courts and the Special Criminal Courts which had been given extra powers by FF justice ministers over the last government.

Enda Kenny passed the book on resources saying that they will be provide as the Guards require but it is a administrative issue for the inspectorate.

Abortion

This issue of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities (FFA) was put to Enda Kenny by Colette Fitzpatrick. He said he understood the trauma of an unborn children that will not survive outside the womb. He wants a change to the 8th amendment but that a period of reflection was required. Pressed on this issue he advised that consensus is required.

Micheal Martin agreed with Enda Kenny and said he though a constitutional change was required.

Joan Burton differed from FG and was pressed on FG's position. She would like a referendum to allow for abortion where FFA was diagnosed.

Gerry Adams said that SF want to amend the 8th. Similar to each of the other parties.

All parties seem to down plan the removal of the 8th amendment but rather a change to the constitution to allow for Abortion in certain circumstances.

Social Welfare and Homelessness

Joan Burton advised that the government has a 3.8billion plan to opening up local authority properties around the country. She argued that FF had ended tradition of local authorities building house, Labour have a save to buy scheme. She also pointed out that 65,000 of housing rent are paid by the DSP, 1/3 of the rental market is provided by a rent supplement.

Micheal Martin said that 14,000 social house by FF, while just 1,000 by FG/LP in the last 5 years. That the government had reduced rental allowance since 2012, leading to homelessness.

He advised how he had met a mother in homelessness and it was caused by the lack of policy of housing policy.

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton told Micheal Martin to send her to the DSP in Cork, Micheal Martin told them both she had come from DSP offices.

Coalition

Pat Kenny pushed on coalitions. Would FF go into government with either SF or FG, Micheal Martin ruled both out.

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton would like to continue to work together but that it was a decision for the people.

While Gerry Adams ruled out both FG and FF saying that if the numbers add up a Right 2 Change government coalition could be formed.