TV3 to host first party leaders’ debate on Thursday

Four-way contest between Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Labour

Pat Kenny will moderate the debate with fellow broadcaster Colette Fitzpatrick. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Pat Kenny will moderate the debate with fellow broadcaster Colette Fitzpatrick. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

The first debate among the leaders of the main political parties will take place on TV3 on Thursday.

Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams and Joan Burton will participate in the four-way contest.

The debate, which is being produced in association with Newstalk Radio, will be moderated by broadcasters Colette Fitzpatrick and Pat Kenny and will last an hour and a half.

TV3’s Vincent Browne has already said he will not be covering the general election because of health difficulties.

In a statement this afternoon, TV3 said the debate will be followed by analysis from Newstalk host Ivan Yates, TV3’s political editor Ursula Halligan and Michael Clifford of the Irish Examiner.

Andrew Hanlon, TV3’s director of news, said it “promises to be one of the big highlights and centre-pieces of the general election so far”.

Garrett Harte, editor in chief of Newstalk, said: “Leader’s debates can be pivotal events in the run up to polling day and I am looking forward to the formidable team of Pat and Colette probing the leader’s positions in a number of important issues.”

RTÉ will host a seven-way debate, including leaders of the smaller parties, next week. The debate will be moderated by Claire Byrne.

RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan will then moderate another four-way debate in the final stages of the campaign. An Irish language debate is expected to take place on TG4.