Presidential Election debate as it happened

Wednesday 19 October 2011 09.58
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The seven candidates were involved in a debate on News At One
The seven candidates were involved in a debate on News At One
Dana leaves the Customs House after handing in her nomination papers
Dana leaves the Customs House after handing in her nomination papers
David Norris also handed in his nomination papers this morning
David Norris also handed in his nomination papers this morning

There are seven confirmed candidates for the Presidential election which will be held on 27 October.

They are Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, Labour's Michael D Higgins, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness and Independents Mary Davis, Seán Gallagher, David Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon.

The first major debate between all seven candidates took place this afternoon on News At One.

1508 Missed the News At One debate? Listen back to it here.

1442 What have you made of the campaign so far? Post a comment here.

1418 Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said all candidates in the Presidential election have to up front with the electorate.

Mr Kenny was responding to a question as to whether Senator David Norris should publish all clemency letters he wrote on behalf of his former partner who was convicted of statutory rape in 1997.

He said the people have a "right to know" when deciding to who to vote for.

He said he believed Gay Mitchell has the right credentials to do an outstanding job for the country.

1400 The debate ends. It will be available to view and listen to in full later this afternoon.

1358 Speaking about the Government's performance, David Norris says that "jerseys have been swapped" but that the same policies are in place.

He says he would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the people of Ireland.

1357 Seán Gallagher says most of the people are less concerned about the past and more concerned about the future.

He says he wants to be a "flare" to show that Ireland is open for business.

Mr Gallagher said as he grew up with a visual impairment he would like to champion the rights of people with disabilities and also focus on mental health.

1356 Dana says that whoever is the next President must be true to themselves. She says she was taught to love and respect people from every walk of life.

1355 Martin McGuinness says there it is hugely important that whoever is elected provides "real leadership".

1354 Mary Davis says that a President must handle any crises in a "cool and calm" way.

1351 Gay Mitchell says the President is the "third house of the Oireachtas".

He says the President must make lonely and important decisions on referring legislation to the Supreme Court.

1350 Michael D Higgins says the Constitution convention should look at Article 26.

He says he does not have any problems with the Constitution because he taught it as a political scientist.

Mr Higgins says he agrees with Dana that you don't need to be a lawyer to be President.

1347 David Norris says he believes he has good judgement.

He says we should celebrate all aspects of Irish life.

Mr Norris says if he is well aware of the protocol relating to the passing of legislation in the statute books.

1345 Martin McGuinness says he would travel and that it is very important to build an "inclusive" Ireland.

He says his election would be a good news story.

Mr McGuinness says his track record as a peacemaker is known internationally.

1344 Seán Gallagher says agriculture is one of the pillars that will help to rebuild the economy.

He says the only solution to young people's problems is education and employment

1342 Mary Davis says she would make the Áras a "very open home". She wants Áras an Uachtaráin renamed "Áras na nDaoine".

She says President can show that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.

1339 Gay Mitchell says many people had a role in persuading people in Northern Ireland to give up violence.

He says no one person should claim responsibility for the peace process.

Mr Mitchell says two jumbo jets of people committed suicide last year. He says the issue will be a cornerstone of his campaign.

1334 Asked if he has the energy to be President, Michael D Higgins says he has travelled 23,000km since 19 May.

Mr Higgins says he was interested in running against Mary McAleese in 2004 in order to facilitate a debate on the issues at the time.

He says that defending the Government is not the job of the President.

1330 Dana says her family had bereavements in the last couple of years and that she and her family were not ready to get involved in the Presidential race until recently.

Ms Scallon says inequality must be tackled.

When asked is she had alienated some of her previous supporters, Dana Rosemary Scallon has said she took a position against the bishops in the Abortion Referendum because they and the public were not fully informed.

She says anything she has ever done has always involved giving the people all the information in order to make an informed decision.

1326 David Norris says he has had legal advice from Irish and Israeli solicitors who have told him he should not publish the remaining clemency letters.

He said he is abiding by that advice.

Mr Norris says Irish people are very wise and he will not second guess them.

He says he would have no problem undertaking a State visit to Israel.

Mr Norris says he has different views than Pope Benedict, but would be honoured to meet him in an official capacity.

1322 Martin McGuinness says he wants to give leadership in a time of greed.

He says he is concerned about the excessive salary of the President.

He says he is proud of his work to bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

Mr McGuinness says he was never charged with membership of the IRA after 1974. He said he used his influence to move the political aspirations of Sinn Féin forward.

1318 Seán Gallagher says he is "relevant" to the needs of Ireland at the moment.

Mr Gallagher says people are concerned about unemployment and emigration.

He says we need to build confidence and build on our strengths.

He says there also needs to be a focus on tourism and trade and that a President can help open markets.

1316 Gay Mitchell says he the campaign starts now and he believes he will, with the support of Fine Gael, win the election.

Mr Mitchell says he has used the limits of every office he has held to help the people of Ireland.

He says the last thing he can be accused of is being "part of the establishment".

1313 Mary Davis says she has been appointed to many positions. She says she got the help she needed when putting together the Special Olympics and she wansts to give something back.

Ms Davis says Mary McAleese has left "very big shoes to fill".

She says she is "totally independent" and has no political allegiances.

1312 Michael D Higgins says he has "experience of mind".

1311 Dana Rosemary Scallon says she will "restore and build trust". David Norris says he is "tempered steel" and that he has shown he can come through tough times.

1310 Gay Mitchell says he has the "experience and energy" to last the seven years.

1309 Seán Gallagher will focus on unemployment, emigration and lack fof confidence.

1308 The candidates are making their cases. Martin McGuinness says he wants to open the Áras to our "Unionist brothers and sisters".

1307 Actually Michael D Higgins has been delayed. He will be there presently.

1305 The seven candidates are in the News At One studio.

1152 Launching his campaign to be the next President of Ireland, Labour candidate Michael D Higgins said that race for the Áras had now entered its final stage, but it was a continuation of a long journey for him.

Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore told the launch at the College of Physicians in Dublin that Michael D Higgins was a "proud servant of our country".

He added that the past three years had been difficult for the Irish people but that as a people the Irish were "resilient" and that at this "time of renewal" Mr Higgins was a candidate that would help restore pride and make "an outstanding President".

Michael D Higgins said in his formal campaign launch speech: "I have a burning pride in our country and our future and offer experience, understanding and a passion for transformation. If elected I will dedicate both head and heart to the service of Ireland.”

1137 Odran Flynn was on Morning Ireland. He said the candidates must prepare for the "ultimate reality show".

1133 Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said there are no plans to introduce legislation to reform the Presidential nomination process.

Mr Kenny said after the President is elected, a Constitution convention will be formed and changes to the process will be considered.

He was responding to a question from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams who asked if the archaic system will be reformed through legislation.

1121 Martin McGuinness said people questioning his past had to understand the efforts he had gone to in the name of making peace and the trust he now enjoyed in communities across Northern Ireland.

Speaking to the media on Dublin's Grafton Street, Mr McGuinness declared there was only one Óglaigh na hÉireann and that was the Irish Army. The name has also been used in the past by the Provisional IRA.

Mr McGuinness said he would run a positive campaign and reach out to the people of Ireland.

As previously stated, he said he would draw down the average industrial wage from his Presidential salary and use the balance to hire several young people from the dole queues and give them jobs.

1017 David Norris has said he was not concerned when Cork County Council denied him a Presidential nomination yesterday.

Speaking on Today with Pat Kenny, Mr Norris said he “felt in it his bones” that he would get the requisite nominations.

Senator Norris says he cannot publish the other letters written on behalf of his former partner Ezra Nawi because of “professional legal privilege”.

Mr Nawi was convicted of committing statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy in the 1990s.

Mr Norris reiterated his apology for any pain his letters may have caused victims.

The Irish people, Mr Norris said, “want an election, not an inquisition”.

Mr Norris said he thinks he is the most transparent person in politics today.