12/10/2011

Presidential Candidates Prepare For TV Debate

Ireland's Presidential candidates are getting set for their next TV debate tonight following a radio debate yesterday that saw two of the candidates clash.

FM's The Last Word hosted a debate yesterday afternoon after which Independent Presidential candidate Mary Davis accused Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell of insulting volunteers with the Special Olympics.

Mr Mitchell said Ireland did not bring the Olympics to Ireland because we decided it was beyond us.

He then said we did bring "some Olympics", referring to the Special Olympics which were held here.

A spokesperson for Mr Mitchell said "he meant no disrespect". He added that Mr Mitchell has a sister with an intellectual disability and that many of his family had volunteered during the Special Olympics.

The debate was held in the Sugar Club in Dublin in front of a live audience.

McGuinness To Blame For 1916 Rising?

During the same radio debate Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness said that he wanted to be president of "all 32 counties" and that he did not want to subscribe to a "partitionist-style mentality".

He said it was wrong as an Irish citizen that he did not have a vote in the Presidential election.

Independent candidate David Norris said as a result of changes to Articles 2 and 3 of the constitution, it was not possible for the President to be president of all of Ireland. He said he would be the President of the 26 Counties, but he would, like President Mary McAleese, build bridges with the people in the North.

Meanwhile McGuinness addressed allegations, put to him at the last TV debate aired on TV3, that he was a member of the IRA longer after he claimed to be.

He said:"If people had the opportunity they would blame me for the 1916 rising".

The seven Presidential candidates will participate in another public debate on RTÉ's Prime Time programme this evening.

They also face a brace of questions from another source, on a new website for students called telluswhy.ie.

It is an opportunity for students to use a web forum to press the candidates on issues close to their hearts.

(LB/CD)

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