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Harris wins debate for Yes side

Inside Politics: Minister outperformed Tóibín in strongest performance by any politician on abortion issue

The lead-up to last night’s RTÉ Prime Time debate was paved with plenty of drama.

Hours before it was due to commence, Love Both spokeswoman Cora Sherlock informed RTÉ she was unavailable.

Sherlock had called on Harris to debate her for three weeks, but hours before last night’s debate was due to commence, she contacted RTÉ to say she was unavailable.

The No side proposed Maria Steen as her replacement. RTÉ declined because Ms Steen had participated in a debate eight days previously.


The No side was adamant it was Maria Steen or nobody. In the end, it was a head-to-head debate between Minister for Health Simon Harris and Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín.

Tóibín was effective, but Harris won the debate for the Yes side.

After a poor performance on the last TV debate, the Yes campaign needed its strongest advocate, and Harris outperformed his rival by a mile. He gave the strongest performance by any politician on this matter.

The focus now turns to TV3 and its two debates tonight. Maria Steen was due to participate in The Pat Kenny Show but pulled out last night. She later confirmed she would take part.

Interestingly, Micheál Martin and Mary Lou McDonald will appear on The Tonight Show on TV3 to advocate a Yes vote. They will debate Declan Ganley and Theresa Lowe.

McDonald will be conscious that Tóibín appeared on RTÉ as a Sinn Féin TD advocating against the party policy. She will be keen to ensure viewers are left in no doubt on where the party stands on this issue.

You can find all our coverage on the Eighth Amendment here.

Also expect two more digests this weekend as the referendum results become clear.

Ross Bill hits choppy waters

While we were all glued to Prime Time, things were descending into chaos in the Dáil.

It appeared Shane Ross’s Bill to reform judicial appointments was home and hosed after Sinn Féin, the Independent Alliance and Fine Gael reached a deal on its passage.

However, it all seemed to come apart last night when a key amendment put forward by the Government was lost.

Everything got a little messy after that, and the Ceann Comhairle was forced to suspend the House.

The matter will be looked at again today, but it seems this Bill is destined to be a constant headache for the Government.