The first of the televised Presidential candidate debates takes place on the Claire Byrne Live programme on RTÉ One tonight at 9.35pm.

In front of a studio audience the candidates will have one hour to state their case for people’s votes when they go to the ballot boxes on 26 October.

Here are six things to know ahead of tonight's debate.

1)  Which candidates will be taking part? 

All six candidates have been invited to take part in the Claire Byrne Live Presidential Debate.

Four candidates, Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, Joan Freeman and Liadh Ní Riada, have so far confirmed that they will take part.

The invitation remains open for each of the candidates to join Claire in studio right up to broadcast tonight.

If any candidate does not wish to take part, this will be acknowledged at the start of the programme.

2)  Where is the debate being conducted? What time does it start?

Claire Byrne Live is broadcast from Studio 4 in RTÉ, Donnybrook, Dublin.

The programme will be live at 9.35pm on RTÉ One, RTÉ News Now and live worldwide via the RTÉ Player.

The programme will be one hour in duration and will be dedicated to the debate and post analysis. 

3)  How was the studio audience selected?

The Claire Byrne Live Presidential Debate will have a studio audience of approximately 200 people present on the night.

RTÉ partnered with Amarach Research for the audience selection process. 

4)  Can members of the studio audience comment/ask questions?

Members of the studio audience will be asked to submit potential questions to Amarach Research and a panel including external experts will select the questions to be asked on the night.

It will be a live current affairs debate so there is no set number of questions or topics.

5)  Are there any particular rules of engagement that have been agreed ahead of the debate?

Each candidate will deliver a 60-second opening statement at the beginning of the programme. Claire will then moderate a fair debate.

6)  Will there be post debate analysis?

Yes, although details are still being confirmed.

Looking ahead to the debate Claire Byrne said: "This debate will be the first time that television audiences will meet the candidates together in a live debate and hear them explain why they deserve your vote. All of the candidates have been invited to take part and that invitation remains open.

"The live debate performs a hugely important function in allowing all of us to assess each person who has put themselves forward and giving us a chance to hear them answer the questions that Irish voters have asked.

"I have spent a lot of time looking at each candidate, why they are running, their backgrounds, what they have said up to now and my job on the night is make sure everyone gets a fair chance to represent themselves and most importantly, that the audience in the studio and at home gets a clear sense of each candidate and what they represent before making that all important choice at the ballot box.

"Of utmost importance for me as a moderator, is fairness. Every person in that studio will get a fair hearing - it may be challenging but it will always be fair.

"I am representing the voters and my job is to make sure that voters know more about each candidate and their views at the end of the show than they did at the beginning."