Well, for one thing, the Presidential Election campaign is going to be lively.

Four of the six candidates turned-up for this first debate of the campaign and little time was lost in getting stuck into the two absent contenders - Michael D Higgins and Séan Gallagher.

Gavin Duffy was more diplomatic when he said that he was "happy to participate in all debates" because contenders "have to show respect to the electorate."

Peter Casey was more direct: it was a "total disgrace" that Michael D Higgins didn't attend. He also claimed Sean Gallagher had been "missing-in-action" for seven years.

Casey also criticised Joan Freeman for asserting that she was the only truly independent candidate.

At the outset, each candidate was given an opportunity to set-out their stall.

Liadh Ní Riada spoke of how being an MEP in the European Parliament had given her a "unique insight into country and where we are going."

Joan Freeman said she wanted to use her influence to "build-up the heart and compassion of the people" and would draw on her experience at Pieta House.

Gavin Duffy was also talking-up his experience, saying "mentoring, motivating and mobilising people" was what he had done all his life and this was the same skill-set needed to be President.

Peter Casey drew on his mother's advice to always "make a difference." He said his focus was connecting the country with the Irish abroad for the benefit of everyone.

After those introductory comments, Aine Lawlor grilled each candidate on aspects of their past record.

Liadh Ní Riada was quizzed about an interview she gave to Cork's 96FM in which she raised concerns about the HPV vaccine.

In the interview, she had said that she wrote to her daughter's school to instruct them not to give her the vaccine.

Ms Ní Raida said she "never opposed" the vaccination programme but had "raised concerns about lack of information."

She said she was supportive of vaccinations but declined to say if her children had ultimately received the HPV vaccine as this was a "private" matter. She felt the questioning from some journalists was almost "sinister".

Joan Freeman faced questions about who precisely had funded her campaign.

She told Aine Lawlor that two business people had contributed €130,000. One of them was a retired businessman from LA, Des Walsh - she'd known him 40 years and he had given her a loan of €120,000. She said she couldn't disclose the other contributor as she'd yet to receive their permission.

Joan Freeman also rejected suggestions that her plans for community-building, by creating 'Council's of State' in every county, would amount to duplication.

For Peter Casey, the focus was on his comments that Ireland was effectively "protected by NATO", and it was disingenuous for anyone to claim that the Irish Defence Forces can defend us.

Asked if that view disqualified him from office, given Ireland was neutral and the President was also Head of the Defence Forces, Mr Casey replied: "Absolutely not."

He suggested Ireland follows the example of Greece and spend 2% of GDP on defence.

Gavin Duffy was questioned about his big plan for an 'Ireland International Youth Corp' in which 18 to 25-year-olds would volunteer for three months in Ireland, and then have a tour of duty abroad.

He said this could be funded through Ireland's international aid budget - even though this is currently below the level requested by the UN.

Mr Duffy rejectJed any suggestion that such "volunteerism" wasn't particularly helpful for developing countries. Mr Duffy also disclosed that he hadn't yet drawn down a loan on his house to fund the campaign.

The RTÉ Radio News at One programme also considered what the candidates would do if they were elected - including welcoming a visit by US President Donald Trump.

Liadh Ní Riada said she would "have to ask him about his ridiculous hair" but then said she was joking.

She said "protests are not very helpful" and she would try to influence him on such issues as climate change.

That was a similar view to the other candidates.

Peter Casey branded Trump "a disgrace" but added he would meet him because "you have to respect the office of the President."

Joan Freeman said, as President, it would be "our duty to welcome" Trump, but she would try to discuss things with him in a quiet moment.

Gavin Duffy said all candidates would "have reservations" but added: "I always believe dialogue and engagement is the way forward."

There was less unanimity on the question of Presidential pay. Gavin Duffy was clear in his view:

"I believe the president should be paid. I've said all along that I don't agree with people saying they won't take the full salary."

His fear was that otherwise the Irish Presidency would only be the preserve of the rich.

One such person is Peter Casey, who decided to take aim on Mr Duffy for the perceived dig: "I've said all along that I believe that the president should absolutely get a salary. But I don't believe it should be anyway as large as it is... or as large as Gavin claims... to the lifestyle to which he wants to become accustomed."

Liadh Ní Riada was direct - she would only accept the salary of a Minister.

Asked what would happen to the rest of the President wage, she said it would: "go back into the Exchequer."

She felt this was the only appropriate course when more than ten thousand people were homeless.

Joan Freeman took aim at Michael D Higgins, but not by name. She pointed to the disclosure of a more than €300,000 special fund at Áras an Uachtarain by the Public Accounts Committee this week.

She said this information should have been released 'for seven years.'

She said she would take the salary but then "use a portion of it" to start community initiatives around the country.

On the Irish language, Gavin Duffy said he was proficient in Irish but his fluency was "rusty."

Liadh Ní Riada said she only ever spoke Irish in the European Parliament and she was disappointed there would not be a TG4 debate as gaeilge.

Joan Freeman said that "sadly" she didn't speak the language because she emigrated at a young age. Peter Casey also expressed regret at his inability to speak Irish.

And that was the debate, albeit with four of six candidates.

President Michael D Higgins said he was undertaking presidential duties and couldn't attend.

Seán Gallagher stated that he will take part in debates that involve all the candidates.

The first TV debate will be on RTÉ's Claire Byrne Live show on Monday 15 October. A live audience will also be participating.

There's a lot of campaigning to happen between now and then. But all six candidates should be in position when the studio lights go up