TG4 Overcomes Language Barrier To Host Debate

The seven candidates in the Presidential election took part in an hour-long bilingual debate on TG4 last night with the station managing to overcome the language barrier in order to host the event.

Seán Gallagher, Dana Rosemary Scallon, David Norris and Martin McGuiness said they would like to become fluent in the Irish language as they only had a brief knowledge of it. There has been much talk about this in recent weeks and at one stage the TG4  debate was thrown into doubt.

Most of the exchanges were in English as Michael D Higgins is the only candidate who is fluent in Irish.

A number of topics were discussed on the show, with candidates aiming to peg back front runner Sean Gallagher.

When Mr Gallagher said he supported changing the national anthem to make it less militaristic, McGuinness referred to him as a revisionist. Norris also criticised Gallagher stating he should have done more about unemployment when he was a member of the Fianna Fáil national executive; while Higgins said the entrepreneur stood for a “speculative economy”.

The national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, was widely discussed with each candidate been asked whether it was fit for its purpose. Labour candidate Higgins said if it was written today it would be different.He suggested there could be a consultation process about the anthem next spring.

The candidates also spoke about the future of the Irish language and possible celebrations for the centenary year of the 1916 rising. 

Dana Rosemary Scallon said she did not regret standing, while Mary Davis insisted she regarded herself as an Independent despite her links to previous government`s and outgoing president Mary McAleese, who herself was the Fianna Fàil candidate when she entered office in 1997.

Fine Gael Gay Mitchell stressed the need for political experience in the office.

The final televised debate of the campaign is on RTÉ’s The Frontline programme on Monday.

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