Election Blog 5

Friday 31st January

I had intended this to be an update as to who seemed to be ahead in the campaign in terms of performance after the Leaders Debate on Virgin Media TV on Thursday night, but the programme was a farce ruined by the two so called moderators and Ivan Yates in particular.

It was one of the most unprofessional performances by any current affairs presenter that I have seen in 35 years of writing and broadcasting about elections.

I have fought tooth and nail with politicians of all parties and none over the years and many a serious row I have had with them, but they have all been elected by the people and deserve respect which was not shown to them by Ivan Yates in particular last night. At one stage last night Leo Varadkar was interrupted three times by one or both presenters in the space in 30 seconds.

None of the politicians were allowed to finish any point they were making as Yates and Cooper shouted, badgered, and insulted them. I was looking forward to the debate but instead I grew more frustrated as it went on. God only knows what those being interviewed felt like.

The debate only went to underline how far ahead the likes of Clare Byrne and David McCullogh are of the ‘Tonight Show’ pair in terms of professionalism and decorum.
I wasn’t surprised with Yates but I was with Cooper who is a competent and experienced operator but there is no telling what happens to a person when ego takes over.

For what it was worth Micheal Martin seemed to be eager to get stuck into Sinn Fein and Mary Lou McDonald while Leo Varadkar kept out of the major spats for the most part. It would appear that the main parties are now looking on Sinn Fein as a major threat. Whether that becomes a reality remains to be seen. Eamon Ryan was shouted down so many times that it became tiresome. He is too nice a man for a bar-room brawl which is what this was.

Brendan Howlin did well and was probably interrupted the least of all the participants. Mick Barry and Catherine Murphy were largely anonymous.
But this programme was all about Yates and Cooper to a lesser extent, and that’s sad. Roll on next weeks’ debate and a return to more normal political interviewing.