Climate change, security and housing were among the major topics discussed during a televised debate involving candidates running in the Dublin constituency of the European Elections.
Ten of the 19 candidates in Dublin participated in the Claire Byrne Live debate on RTÉ One.
Voters head to the polls this Friday for the European Elections, Local Elections and a Divorce Referendum, while people in Cork city, Limerick and Waterford will also be asked their views on directly elected mayors.
13 MEPs will be elected in the three Irish European constituencies. That is two more than the last election in 2014, as Ireland gains extra MEPs due to the planned exit of the UK from the EU.
However, the final candidates elected in Dublin and Ireland South will not take their seats until after Britain leaves the EU.
This evening’s debate opened with Lynn Boylan of Sinn Féin saying the best antidote to the rise of the far right in the European Union was progressive politicians like her.
"You cannot go in fawning and gushing like a nodding dog," she said.
Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews said his party would form part of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, which he expected to be the largest group, and which represented a range of views.
Independent4Change candidate Clare Daly said the battle was for the ideals of Europe, but this would not be won by neo-liberalism.
Frances Fitzgerald of Fine Gael said she did not believe Ireland’s Corporation tax rate was under threat. She said tax was a national competence.
She rejected the assumption that Ireland would have to "pay back" solidarity shown by other member states during the Brexit process.
Labour’s Alex White said Europe cannot just be a Europe of the market, it had to be a social Europe.
Éilis Ryan of the Workers' Party said there had been a succession of right wing governments here and in Europe with a shared agenda.
Independent candidate Alice-Mary Higgins said there was a need to make choices in the European Union on whether to prioritise a new form of sustainable development.
Gary Gannon of the Social Democrats said he represented a community that had experienced the worst of austerity, the conditions that create the rise of the far right.
"Experience is important, but values are essential," he said, rejecting the suggestion that national political experience was needed for Brussels.
The Green Party’s Ciarán Cuffe said his party had a good reputation of working in committees at EU level.
Ms Fitzgerald defended the Government’s handling of the housing crisis. "We do have to look at where Ireland has come from in recent years," she said.
Ms Boylan said one of the things that can be done from Europe is to stop so-called vulture funds replicating the Irish model at EU level.
"The next parliament will be key to ensuring that directive does not go ahead," she said.
Mr Andrews said his party was "extremely frustrated" by the ongoing Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Fine Gael minority Government, but the little they can do they had do.
He suggested a Dublin office for Brussels, so that the four Dublin local authorities could identify funding opportunities.
Ms Daly said public housing was needed and the fiscal constraints of the EU had to be tackled.
Ms Ryan said Frances Fitzgerald’s memory has been known to fade and her memory in relation to housing seems a bit weak.
"There are 4,000 children homeless tonight. That is the only point which should be starting this debate," she said.
She called for a public fund for public housing to be established, in the same way as other structural issues in the EU are tackled.
Solidarity - People Before Profit's Rita Harrold said it was shocking to hear people saying things had improved in housing.
"People of my generation are being forced to move back in with their parents," she said.
"It’s essential we send fighters to Europe who will use that platform to help build a movement, like water charges and repeal, that can force change," she said.
Mr Gannon said the problem was that property had been made a commodity.
Mr White said he wanted to go to Europe to be make things happen, to be constructive and not be disruptive.
Mr Cuffe said tackling climate change could be a good news story - investing in transport such as cycling and retrofitting homes.
"If we go for a just transition, protection those on low incomes," he said, adding he was in favour of a carbon levy.
Ms Boylan said she was not in favour of carbon tax, and that people on the doors are saying they do not want to be punished for things outside their control.
Ms Daly said she was opposed to a carbon tax, saying there was "some neck in demanding a carbon tax from homeowners" when there was no tax on aviation fuel.
Mr Andrews said Fine Gael had failed to fulfill his targets set by previous Fianna Fáil governments on climate change.
Ms Harrold said there would be "massive non-payment" of carbon tax by ordinary people.
Mr White said Ireland is in transition in terms of climate change.
He said this meant that Ireland could not close off all the gas pipelines and close the runways and expect to have a functioning economy.
Ms Fitzgerald said dealing effectively with climate change was about partnership and leadership at EU level, but she acknowledged it would be painful.
Ms Higgins said the market could not solve the climate crisis, adding that "it takes massive political leadership".
Ms Boylan said Fine Gael was still issuing license to explore oil and gas fields. "People can see the hypocrisy" she said.
Mr Gannon said he believed people should pay carbon tax. "I believe in carbon dividends," adding he believed there should be a tax on pollution.
Ms Higgins said there were two crises - a biodiversity crisis running alongside a climate change crisis.
Ms Fitzgerald defended the Government’s issuing of exploration licenses, telling Ms Daly that the alternative of importing gas from Russia was "not very climate friendly".
Moving to EU spending on defence budgets, no candidate indicated they were in favour of increasing spending.
Mr White said he was not in favour of an EU army, but added he did not believe this was actually on the agenda.
Mr Gannon said the real threats to the EU are within our own borders, such as the rise of nationalism.
Mr Andrews said it was naive to suggest there is no threat to Ireland. "We saw what happened in Christchurch," he said.
Ms Harrold said it was outrageous for a candidate to utilise an horrendous tragedy to justify massing spending on an EU army.
Mr Cuffe said the real fear was that the proposed €13 billion spend under the European Defence Fund would be going to the arms industry in Belgium, France and elsewhere.
He said the defence forces should be paid properly and Ireland should be investing in its peacekeeping capacity.
Ms Higgins said the outgoing EU parliament chose not to have oversight of this fund.
Finally, all candidates except Ms Fitzgerald and Mr Andrews indicated they would protest at any potential visit of US President Donald Trump to Ireland.
Ten of the 19 Dublin candidates appeared on tonight's debate. The remaining nine candidates had a one-minute video pitch aired during the programme.
They are: Gillian Brien (People Before Profit); Mark Durkan (Fine Gael); Ben Gilroy (Independent); Hermann Kelly (Independent); Tony Bosco Lowth (Independent); Aisling McNiffe (Independent); Mark Mullan (Independent); Eamonn Murphy (Independent) and Gemma O'Doherty (Independent).
Last night's first debate with candidates from the Ireland South constituency saw topics such as corporation tax, the National broadband plan, and defence policy dominating exchanges.
The Midlands-North-West constituency will feature in the final RTÉ television debate on Prime Time tomorrow night.