Two senior Government ministers have withdrawn from planned debates on major issues of public importance in the next 24 hours.

Fianna Fáil Director of Elections Billy Kelleher said: “It is clear Fine Gael is on the run after their shambolic start to the general election campaign, but senior Ministers still have an obligation to engage in substantive policy debates.

“Fianna Fáil was approached by TV3 and Newstalk to participate in debates on health and crime/justice respectively over the next 24 hours.  Unfortunately, despite having confirmed his attendance, the Minister for Health has now decided to absent himself from the ‘Tonight’ which was to debate the future of the health service this evening.  Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is similarly unavailable for a debate with my party colleague Niall Collins on radio tomorrow morning.

“Fine Gael has an obligation to engage in public debate on serious policy matters.  But unfortunately it now seems their senior ministers are taking their lead from the Taoiseach who refuses to publicly debate the issues central to the country’s future.”