The people of Donegal had a lot to say during the TV3 recording of The People’s Debate which took place in Letterkenny on Friday.

Afterwards Vincent Browne  told Donegal Now: “I felt it was really great. People raised very serious issues and we hope to include all of them in the broadcast. We ran over time but it was such a good debate. I have asked TV3 to give us some more time but we’ll see. We might have to edit a little bit out.”

Hundreds of people from community groups, political parties and the general public attended the  Donegal constituency recording. There was a panel made up of four sitting TDs, Thomas Pringle (Independent, Donegal South West), Pearse Doherty (Sinn Féin, Donegal South West), Padraig MacLochlainn (Sinn Féin, Donegal North East) and Charlie McConalogue (Fianna Fáil, Donegal North East).

Notably absent were sitting TDs from the government parties. Vincent Browne acknowledged that Dinny McGinley (Fine Gael, Donegal South West) had a recent bereavement. However he said Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh (Fine Gael, Donegal North East) ‘refused to come before his own constituents for reasons which he did not explain.’

There was a strong sense in the room that Donegal people had waited a long time for the ‘forgotten county’ to have its say. Vincent Browne’s open, honest and occasionally mischievous style of presenting provided the perfect conduit for these issues to reach a national audience. Among the topics discussed were unemployment, poverty, inadequate health services, the hardship of travelling long distances for medical treatment, water charges and the divisive subject of same sex marriage.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle  was very pleased with the audience input.

“I think it was very constructive,” said Deputy Pringle. “Donegal people outlined the issues for Donegal. These are not only local issues but are national issues across the board. The response to the question of marriage equality was very interesting.”

This show is one of a series of People’s Debates which will see Vincent Browne travel to every constituency in the country. It will give people the opportunity to attend a recording in their area and have their say on the issues which impact on their lives. Tonight’s show is on at 10.00pm on TV3.

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Pictured: People had the opportunity to tell Vincent Browne what topis they wanted to discuss during the broadcast. The panel of Deputies Pearse Doherty, Padraig McLochlainn, Charlie McConalogue and Thomas Pringle look on. ©Siobhán McNamara

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