Oct 31 2008 Posted: 00:00 GMT
Matters of particular interest to Irish and Irish-American constituencies were discussed at last night's US Presidential Debate at NUI Galway. At the event, Democrat Bruce Morrison, former Congressman and author of the Morrison Visa legislation, went head-to-head with Republican Grant Lally, Head of Irish-Americans for McCain and former President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. The debate was organised in the 'Town Hall Meeting' style and pre-submitted questions were posed by members of the audience estimated to number over 700. Deemed to be the largest of its kind ever held in Ireland, the meeting provided attendees with a unique, unfiltered opportunity to deepen their understanding of the complex blend of substance and style that shapes electoral politics in the United States. Under discussion were the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States and the future of foreign direct investment in Ireland under either a Barack Obama or John McCain administration. Both Bruce Morrison and Grant Lally argued that their candidate cherished the historical ties between the two countries and would endeavour to further strengthen the relationship between Ireland and the United States. Morrison and Lally also traded barbs on all of the key issues that have defined the 2008 campaign, including: the state of the global economy, the Iraq war, the American health care system, the issue of experience, and the enigmatic Vice-Presidential candidacy of Sarah Palin. According to NUI Galway Law Lecturer Larry Donnelly, the Boston native and political analyst who moderated the debate: "The United States is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, is waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no clearly defined exit strategy and has seen its status in the world fall precipitously in recent years. Polls show that most Americans blame the Bush administration and John McCain, as a Republican, is finding it very difficult to escape President Bush's shadow. When that is coupled with the excitement that Barack Obama's candidacy has generated, it seems like 2008 will be the Democrats' year, but as history proves, nothing is certain until all the votes are counted". The debate was co-sponsored by NUI Galway's Law Society and the Literary & Debating Society, with addresses by their respective heads Peter Mannion and Dan Colley.