RTÉ forced to change presidential debate time after Michael D. Higgins originally declines, but he still can't go 1 year ago

RTÉ forced to change presidential debate time after Michael D. Higgins originally declines, but he still can't go

RTÉ's proposed presidential debate has been thrown into disarray.

RTÉ News at One rescheduled their presidential debate until Thursday, after Michael D. Higgins originally declined to participate.

According to a statement from RTÉ this evening, "RTÉ Radio 1's News at One programme presented by Aine Lawlor, has invited all nominated candidates to the first presidential election debate of the campaign, this Thursday 17 September from 1.00pm".

However, it appears that Higgins will still be too busy to participate. The President's bulging diary for this week includes commitments to open the new DCU student centre at 11am on Thursday. At 2.30pm, the President is scheduled to receive Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

The first presidential debate was originally set to take place at 1pm on Wednesday, before all six nominees had been scrutinised and made official by the High Court at 3pm that afternoon. According to TV3 reporter Gavan Reilly, this prompted President Higgins to decline the invitation.

Higgins' original decision not to participate in this week's debate — which he claims he was not consulted about — also had knock-on effects.

Sean Gallagher issued a statement on Sunday suggesting that he would not participate in the debate if Higgins declined.

Gallagher was then jabbed by his fellow Dragons' Den panelist Peter Casey, who issued the following statement: “I think I can understand why Sean doesn’t want to do the debate, because it didn’t work out too well for him the last time. I am serious about my Presidential bid and will be attending all of the debates in the interest of voters. All candidates who were nominated should participate in debates".

Confirmed participants in the debate include Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, Senator Joan Freeman, and businessmen Gavin Duffy and Peter Casey.

This evening, RTÉ issued a statement to say: "Further details regarding the confirmed participants and structure of the programme will be announced closer to the broadcast."

"In the event that a candidate is not available, the programme will broadcast on-air their reason for not participating."