Recap: The RTÉ Leaders Debate


THE RTÉ Claire Byrne Live debate breathed new, depressing life into the 2020 general election campaign last night and WWN has all the low lights to share with readers.

Defining itself in opposition to Virgin Media One’s dreary two-way leaders debate hosted by and participated in by three rigid artificially intelligent Artificial Intelligence robots, last night’s Claire Byrne moderated debate burst into life with the host being shot out of a canon onto the stage to the lyrics “burn baby burn” from The Trammps’s disco classic ‘Disco Inferno’.

With more than just two party leaders, the debate represented a better chance for the public to see the full spectrum of political choices and ideology with Richard Boyd Barrett, Mary Lou McDonald, Leo Varadkar, a man holding four tattered Crazy Prices plastic bags, Eamon Ryan, Róisín Shortall, Brendan Howlin, an ice sculptor of a Celtic phoenix and Micheál Martin taking to the debate stage.

There was confusion as viewers first presumed the shrieking sound coming from the Claire Byrne Live studio was due to a bag of feral cats being let loose in RTÉ.

Memorable lines from the substantive debate included “eh…”, “If you could stop interrupting”, “…sorry now, let me finish”, “if I could just make a point” and “Claire, Claire, Claire”.

The main cheers of the night from the audience came when several leaders suggested lowering taxes and increasing spending without a plan for how to pay for any of it.

The HSE, Mental Health, childcare and insurance were just some of the hugely important issues the leaders and RTÉ didn’t bother their hole discussing.

Visibility was an issue at times for TV viewers as Claire Byrne admitted, through clouds of smoke, having the debate in a college in Galway was a misstep and that she now had the munchies.

In the interpretive dance and visual art segment of the debate each party leader dangled a shit smeared carrot in front of the audience in a bid to entice the electorate to vote for them.

Keen eyed viewers noted that Sinn Féin’s McDonald was seen at the end of the debate climbing into the ceiling of the RTÉ studio where she will camp out until she can emerge on February 4th to infiltrate RTÉ Primetime’s two-way leaders agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Clear signs certain leaders were out of touch: the Taoiseach said the average person earns €47,000 per year and Richard Boyd Barrett said he would boil the bodies of the rich to make a soup. Everyone knows roasting the rich on a spit and serving the meat in a sourdough sandwich is much nicer.

In a subtle sign that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were ganging up on Sinn Féin as part of coordinated attacks, the following exchange between the Taoiseach and Martin, sung to the tune of “Ooh aah Paul MCgrath” was telling:

Taoiseach: “Ooh”

Martin: “Aah”

Taoiseach: “Sinn Féin”

Martin: “Is the RA”

Clearly in the grips of an existential crisis Brendan Howlin kept screaming “Labour still exists”, “can anyone hear me?” and “am I invisible? Oh my God did Labour die, are we ghosts?”

Many named Mary Lou McDonald the winner on the night after she correctly pointed out Fianna Fáil crashed the economy and that Fine Gael were building the world’s most expensive children’s hospital.

Rejoicing, the Nation declared “finally, someone with the vision to state the obvious. We’re saved!”

The relief enjoyed by the Taoiseach after his relatively okayish, not a complete disaster of a performance in the debate was shortlived as party colleague Senator Catherine Noone revealed herself to be the source of the latest campaign fuck up with her comments about the Taoiseach being ‘a bit autistic’ before she backtracked by saying she’d endeavour to never utter politically insensitive words before adding “such as n***er”.

The electorates’ mythic quest to anyone worthy of their vote continues.