President Michael D Higgins has announced that he will take part in two of the four main television debates during the election campaign.

Mr Higgins will appear on RTÉ’s Prime Time on Tuesday 23 October and Pat Kenny’s Big Debate: Presidential Special on Virgin Media on Wednesday 17 October.

However, he will not take part in the debate on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live on Monday 15 October and the Tonight Show on Virgin Media on 24 October.

Mr Higgins also confirmed he would take part in a radio debate on Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra on 13 October.

He did not take part in the first debate of the campaign last week on RTÉ Radio, saying he had a prior engagement.

Four other candidates, Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, Joan Freeman and Liadh Ní Riada, did take part in the debate on the News at One.

The sixth candidate, Seán Gallagher, was also absent, saying he would not participate in debates that did not include all the candidates contesting the election.

This evening a spokesperson for Mr Gallagher said his position has not changed regarding debates.

The six candidates will contest the election on Friday 26 October.

Read more

Mr Higgins has expressed regret over the lack of debates through the Irish language during the campaign.

Canvassing on Grafton Street in Dublin, he told journalists that he did not understand why there would not be a debate in Irish - apart from the other candidates not being able to fully take part.

He expressed hope that he would have an opportunity to give an interview in Irish, adding that he was sure Ms Ní Riada felt the same.

In relation to the remaining debates, he said his campaign team was in touch with RTÉ and the broadcaster was doing its best to be fair.

He stressed the need for "maximum amount of co-operation" adding "it's very different to say can you do this, or say this is what we've decided or what we're going to demand you doing.

"People don't make programmes like that", he concluded.

In relation to the unaudited presidential allowance of €317,000 which was discussed at the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Higgins said every euro is properly spent and can be accounted for.

He noted that the allowance had not changed since 1998, that it had been in existence since 1938 and the sum of money is voted in the Dáil.

Mr Higgins said he had changed or spent nothing differently to his predecessors.

"I'm entirely open to more transparency going forward. I have changed nothing and I have spent nothing differently than anyone who went before," he said.

Mr Higgins said he was "really hurt" for a member of staff, who he said was "unfairly named and unfairly treated", when it was suggested that he benefited in relation to his salary.

"It's an outrageous and slanderous comment", he said.

Asked if he would be taking legal action, Mr Higgins responded "oh not at all, I'm the President I get on with my job".