No clear winner in second debate
The second debate between the main party leaders in the Irish general election took place last night (Monday 14th February). John Gormley (Green Party); Eamon Gilmore (Labour Party); Enda Kenny (Fine Gael; Micheál Martin (Fianna Fáil) and Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin) battled it out for 90 minutes in front of a studio audience on RTE television.
Enda Kenny as the leader of Fine Gael, which is running highest in the opinion polls, had most to lose. He had also opted out of the first debate and was expected to be criticised by the other leaders. His performance was solid but barely exciting. However, his party strategists will be pleased that he made no errors and the performance should not have lost Fine Gael any support.
Micheál Martin of the governing Fianna Fáil party looked very relaxed, despite the party’s poor showing in the opinion polls, and gave a robust performance. On several occasions he attacked Gerry Adams for his poor understanding of economics and held his own against attacks about his government’s performance.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore was less impressive, but won’t have done his case too much harm. Most interesting was his willingness to attack Fine Gael (the two parties have formed coalition governments in the past) on their financial plans.
Gerry Adams came across as combative, but with a poor understanding of economics, whilst Green leader John Gormley gave a good performance.
This debate was unlikely to have led to any great changes in public opinion of the five leaders.