General Election 2016 heats up at leaders' debate

Update 11.30pm: Labour leader Joan Burton used the first major leaders' debate of the General Election to attack Sinn Féin's plans for the economy.

She said the party's tax plans would actually benefit wealthier people like landlords, and not a young worker getting a job.

"What kind of economics is this? It's fuzzy Sinn Fein economics," she said.

Update 11.00pm: There have been been some fiery exchanges in the first major leaders' debate of the General Election.

The leaders of Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin faced off in the debate hosted by TV3 and Newstalk.

Topics covered the economy, crime, housing, health and abortion - but many aspects were marred by sustained rows between leaders.

Labour leader Joan Burton questioned whether opposition leaders could be trusted with their handling of the economy.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams was attacked by the other three leaders for his party's stance on the Special Criminal Court - but accused others of misrepresenting his concerns.

"You can't back away from the fact that between you, you cut garda numbers. Now, you had a choice," he said.

Update 9.50pm: The Taoiseach came under fire from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over the Government's record on health.

Deputy Martin defended his own record in the sector, and attacked what he said were Fine Gael's broken promises.

"The man has some brass neck to talk like he's talked about health," he said, referring to Enda Kenny. "Their policies, their performance is a disgrace. They made promises before the last election..."

Enda Kenny: "You broke the country, you broke the country."

Deputy Martin: "And you better face up to it. Before the last election you said..."

Enda Kenny: "And know you want to bring back those that did break it back into government."

Deputy Martin: "Are you going to listen or not? Can you not face up to your own failures in terms of health policy?"


The first major debate of the election campaign is underway in Dublin.

The leaders of the four major parties are taking part in the debate hosted by TV3 and Newstalk.

The debate has so far been dominated by discussion on the economy and the health service.

Enda Kenny said Fianna Fáil already had a chance to wreck Ireland's economy, and Sinn Féin would do similar in power.

"Now if you think Gerry that the people watching at home tonight, you are going to charge them 50% tax on an income of 33,800 - that means that you're going to have a 65% marginal tax rate.

"You would drive thousands of jobs out of the country every week, you would ruin and wreck our economy and that's why I said at the beginning - it can't go to people who would wreck it in the future, this man wrecked it in the past."

Feel free to leave a comment in the blog and we will include as part of our review of live reaction across social media during and after the debate.


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