The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and the Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, squared off in their only debate of the campaign.

In an opening statement, the Taoiseach said the best way forward for the country is to vote for Fianna Fáil to build on his Government's achievements.

Mr Kenny appealed to the public to vote for change or stay with what he called a tired Government that does not keep its word.

The Taoiseach rejected suggestions that 10 years in power is too long, saying he is as excited now as he was when he took up the post back in 1997.

The Fine Gael leader said the Fianna Fail/PD Governement was responsible for a litany of broken promises.

The issue of Bertie Ahern's personal finances also arose, with the Taoiseach saying he did objected to answering questions on the topic but said he did object to information being leaked from the tribunal.  He said he did nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny has said no deal has been done between himself and the Green Party over forming the next Government.

Asked about Green Party deputy John Gormley's comment yesterday that the next government would be Fine Gael/Labour/Greens, the Fine GAel leader said he welcomed it.

And with a week to go to polling day, Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte has said as far as he is concerned there will be no coalition between his party and Fianna Fáil.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Today with Pat Kenny, Mr Rabbitte said that he had risked his reputation on the issue. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail Fianna Fáil is today focusing on crime while Fine Gael is highlighting immigration issues.

Last night's four-way confrontation saw the Progressive Democrats' Michael McDowell under attack from Mr Rabbitte, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and the Greens' Trevor Sargent whom he described as the left, the hard left and the leftovers.

Mr McDowell and the Green Party leader in particular traded blows with Mr Sargent defending himself from charges that his policies were anti-business.   

The Tánaiste also said that the Sinn Féin stance on illegal drugs was hypocritical, claiming republicans had been involved in a $25m deal when they sold their terrorist know-how to cocaine funded terrorists in Colombia.

In a measured performance Mr Rabbitte criticised the Government's record on a range of issues but Gerry Adams seemed more comfortable outlining his party's broad approach on economic issues than discussing details of policy. 

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