Last night the Presidential debate on Claire Byrne Live took place without the presence of reigning President Michael D. Higgins and presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher.
Instead, four of the six candidates Joan Freeman, Liadh Ní Riada, Gavin Duffy, and Peter Casey shared their vision for Ireland on the Presidential Debate.
After appearing on Claire Byrne Live, Liadh Ní Riada, a member of the European Parliament and Sinn Féin, shared a snippet from the show which concerned her views on challenging the establishment:
Last night on @ClaireByrneLive I outlined my vision for Uachtarán na hÉireann.
I will be a President that challenges the establishment. Theastaíonn uaim bheith mar Uachtarán a seasann ar son an phobal. Bígí linn & beirimís bua #Aras18#LiadhForPresident#ANewIreland#CBLivepic.twitter.com/QArKpwJjpS
— Liadh Ní Riada MEP (@LiadhNiRiadaMEP) October 16, 2018
The presidential hopeful became a favourite amongst journalists, television personalities and the public on Twitter last night for her comments about the homeless crisis, water charges, anti-austerity, and a united Ireland. A fluent gaeilgeoir, Ní Riada lives in the Muskerry Gaeltacht in Cork:
To be fair, @LiadhNiRiadaMEP was head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates on #cblive tonight.
— David Gibney (@davegibney) October 15, 2018
Very strong performance from @LiadhNiRiadaMEP #cblive #Aras18 pic.twitter.com/q26WsC3hmS
— Deric Ó hArtagáinTV (@deric_tv) October 15, 2018
‘It is time that we write a new story for ourselves, we cannot accept 10,000 homeless’ @LiadhNiRiadaMEP fantastic on #Aras18 #cblive pic.twitter.com/QWJiWIFiBf
— Mairéad Farrell (@Farrell_Mairead) October 15, 2018
I’m as far removed from SF as possible but @LiadhNiRiadaMEP putting on most assured performance here even if lacking a little in charisma.#cblive
— Sinead Ryan (@sinead_ryan) October 15, 2018
Others criticised Ní Riada for commenting about Joan Freeman’s relationship with a man several years ago who helped finance her campaign and when she drew a blank when asked who she would choose to appoint to her Council of State.
Freeman, who spoke passionately about mental health as a founder of Pieta House, revealed she voted No to repeal the Eighth Amendment on Dublin City FM but said her personal convictions would have no impact on her public duties.
Sean Gallagher’s nomination, originally a favourite to contest Higgins’s re-election, will be impacted by his decision to remain absent from the debate last night. The businessman shared an open letter on Twitter, asking Higgin’s for transparency and inclusivity and revealed that he chose not to take part in the debate without the presence of all candidates.
Last night I wrote to President Higgins urging him to reconsider his decision not to participate in all debates. #Transparency #Inclusivity pic.twitter.com/dXeNdkiTi9
— Seán Gallagher (@seangallagher1) October 15, 2018
Gavin Duffy, another winner from last night’s debate, remarked on Gallagher’s absence with “we have Sean Gallagher who thinks he’s above this and above you.”
Thank you for watching tonight but the truth is we faced a situation where our President is watching but did not have the regard for the Irish people to appear at this debate. I compel both @MichaelDHiggins & @seangallagher1 to join the discussion #cblive #Gavin4President #Aras18
— Gavin Duffy (@GavinDuffy) October 15, 2018
The show was forced to take a break after an audience member shouted “I’ve had enough” at presidential candidate Peter Casey, who remains the candidate least likely to be elected President. The show had no scheduled breaks planned.
Last week Michael D. was 70% favourite to remain President of Ireland. You can catch up on the full presidential debate on the RTÉ player.