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My feminine touch will charm candidates - Miriam

RTE STAR Miriam O'Callaghan believes the "female touch" will disarm the seven presidential hopefuls during tonight's third televised debate of the campaign.

And the Prime Time presenter has warned the candidates that they must "up their games" as polling day is two weeks away.

Ms O'Callaghan is set to be the only female chairperson of any debate in the race for the Aras and admits that she intends to approach the candidates in a different manner to her male colleagues.

In an interview with the Herald, the Dublin mum-of-eight said there's a lot of expectation on the presidential candidates.

"As a country we want to vote someone into Aras an Uachtarain that we're proud of and someone who will represents us well both here and abroad. It's an incredibly important and prestigious role and it's a big honour. So they all need to step up to the mark to persuade us to vote for them."

The broadcaster admits that "everything is on the table" and that she intends to turn the spotlight on each candidate and their past.

She said: "Ultimately, this is a test of character. The Irish people are voting in their head of state and I need to ask, 'are you actually the person you are saying you are to the Irish people?' And that's why unravelling what they say and what they've done is so critically important tonight. The past is all about who they are and who they are is why the people are voting for them.



DEBATE

"There is a lot of doubt there, I was out at a charity event and a lot of people were saying they do not yet know who they're voting for. There's no stand-out candidate, so it's wide open."

Ms O'Callaghan revealed that although she admires the styles of presenters such as Ryan Tubridy and Vincent Browne, she intends to bring her a feminine style to the debate.

"I have to try to think of a way of conducting the debate in which I ask the tough, but slightly different questions -- given that there has been several debates already.

"I sometimes think women approach things differently. My style is different -- I think you get things by not approaching it with a hammer.

"I think you can get very revealing insights about the type of character someone has by asking very simple disarming questions that aren't very aggressive."

Prime Time airs tonight at 9.35pm on RTE One.

hnews@herald.ie