See the debate http://www.rte.ie/player/#v=1056151
Friday September 25 2009
RYANAIR chief executive Michael O'Leary and the main face of the 'No' to Lisbon campaign Declan Ganley locked horns last night in one of the most rancorous exchanges in the ongoing referendum campaign.
Mr Ganley was branded a failed politician who did not get a seat in an area where "even Dana got elected".
Meanwhile, the airline chief was dubbed a puppet of Brussels who did not know what he was talking about.
Earlier this week, Mr O'Leary called for a 'Yes' vote next week, reversing his position on the previous referendum. It was during a round of press conferences that Mr O'Leary agreed to a debate with Mr Ganley.
On RTE's 'Prime Time' last night, Mr O'Leary said he supported the 'Yes' campaign after Ireland got assurances on keeping a commissioner and determining tax policy into the future. This was ridiculed by his opponent.
In return, Mr O'Leary threw scorn on Mr Ganley for returning to politics after committing to a withdrawal following his failure in the European elections. "You are only here because you wouldn't accept the vote of the Irish people last year in the European elections. You couldn't get elected.
"Even Dana got elected in your constituency. You wanted to be Dana. You said you could take no for an answer and yet here you are like another failed politician," said Mr O'Leary.
During the frequently aggressive and abusive debate, host Miriam O'Callaghan called on the pair to stop the insults.
Mr Ganley said the Ryanair chief executive had been "rolled out to defend the indefensible".
Mr Ganley added that he had got 67,638 votes "which is more votes than anyone sitting in Dail Eireann has got at the moment".
"The fact is that this effectively ends democracy as we know it in the European Union. It is not alarmist, it is factual."
Mr O'Leary said Libertas and other groups on the 'No' side were "economic illiterates".
"Declan doesn't like it which is why he is back campaigning again, having been denied a vote," he said. When Mr Ganley responded, he said his opponent was manifesting his "complete lack of understanding of what the issue is".
- Shane Hickey