A 'shriek-fest' won't help to secure votes

By Deborah Coleman

Published 20/02/2016 | 00:00

Deborah Coleman.
Deborah Coleman.

I was intrigued to watch the leaders' debate on TV3 last week so you can imagine my disappointment when it nosedived into an incoherent shriek-fest.

Despite having two seasoned broadcasters as moderators in the form of Pat Kenny and Colette Fitzpatrick, the panel of four main party leaders stuck to its own agenda - to point out the flaws of the rest and shout over one another.

The frustration of the presenters was evident as they endeavoured to keep the speakers to the agenda yet try as they might - the panel has its own ideas.

To my mind, there was no clear 'winner' and viewers were also left in despair about the prospects who might lead the next Government.

It was a barrage of he said - she said, with one shouting over the other about who has let the country down more than the rest.

As the only leader as a first-timer in such pre-election debates, Joan Burton came across as shouty and bossy and never got to the core of any Labour policies but instead took every opportunity to blame Fianna Fáil for their mistakes.

Let's not deny that 'mistakes' is probably an enormous understatement but Micheál Martin was ready for the attacks and appeared as a competent debater, if a little too keen to gloss over the pit of doom his party left the country in.

Gerry Adams spun out the old romantic 1916 vision in a bid to dazzle and charm and outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny joined Burton in his chastisement of Martin.

As I write this, a seven, possibly eight-leader debate is yet to take place on RTE. The thoughts of trying to keep up with that many speakers, if they conduct themselves in the same manner is enough to make one's head spin.

What we saw last week wasn't even a debate. It didn't assist voters in making their decision for February 26 and it certainly didn't do the leaders any favours.

I cannot stand that type of negative campaigning when we are already blindingly aware of the state our country was left in after the crash. After all it was us, the people, who lived it and as Enda Kenny once said 'took the medicine'.

And so we did. We endured tax after tax, cut after cut, and most of us never grumbled because we wanted recovery so badly. The least the leaders can do is give us a healthy and clear debate.

Wexford People

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