Party leaders gather for live Leaders' Debate in Limerick

Update 11.50pm: The Renua leader Lucinda Creighton outlined her party’s ‘three strikes’ policy for life imprisonment after three convictions for offences like rape and burglary.

She argued that previous governments had been soft on crime and not used the powers they already had.

Micheál Martin attacked Gerry Adams' past, saying he has denied IRA membership for 30 years - Gerry told Mr Martin to bring any proof he had to the Gardaí.

Joan Burton attacked Micheál Martin's time in government, calling him the Emperor with no clothes - while Enda Kenny again stayed quiet for long stretches, picking and choosing his punching points.

There has been a lot of praise online for moderator Claire Byrne who kept charge of the candidates - at one point walking away into the audience to silence them.

Update 11pm: Labour's Joan Burton said her party had a vision of being able to provide quality healthcare in every community.

"We have a growing population and we need to have care in our community, we need to be able to get that at a local level."

Update 10.50pm: Richard Boyd Barrett of the triple-A/People Before Profit criticised the government for downgrading emergency departments, and allowing some departments to be overcrowded while others lie empty.

"At the same time as you can be sitting in a war-zone of a hospital that is overcrowded, you will hear ads on the radio saying 'but if you can pay come to the Beacon Clinic or to Blackrock, you can come in and there's no queue at all'.

"Now this is the problem we have a two-tier system where health care is being dished out on the basis of the size of your wallet, not on the basis of medical need."

Update 10.15pm: Stephen Donnelly of the Social Democrats said he wants to maintain Universal Social Charge at the current rate.

"The USC is a necessary tax for a stable tax base, people do need something back Claire, how we do that is by targeting the cost of living.

"We all know, we all know we pay too much for things in this country."

Update 10pm: Early exchanges in the debate have been dominated by questions on the economy and previous broken promises.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said his plans to lower taxes would help to create more work - and attacked Fianna Fáil in doing so: "The less tax that people have to pay the more you can put at work, and we have evidence of this now with the rising numbers in employment.

"When Michael told Bloomberg back in 2010, that it would not be necessary to trigger the mechanism of a bailout.

"He told Fox News the same day that the IMF would not be required here, yet the government that he was a party to, did not even know the troika had arrived in the country."

Party leaders, officials and the media are gathering in Limerick for the second TV debate in Election 2016.

Seven party leaders will take part in the event which commences in University Limerick at 9.35pm.

Richard Boyd Barrett, Gerry Adams, Micheál Martin, Enda Kenny, Joan Burton, Stephen Donnelly and Lucinda Creighton will be participating tonight.

The Green Party leader Eamon Ryan earlier failed in a High Court bid to join the other leaders on stage.

Tonight's exchanges will include selected questions from the audience.

The first leaders' debate on TV3 was full of interruptions and bad-tempered exchanges.

Read more about General Election 2016 HERE.


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