Suicide has become a surprise issue in the Irish election.

Because of it likely next Prime Minister Enda Kenny has refused so far to take part in a debate with other party leaders.

That is because one of the hosts of the debate, journalist Vincent Browne, had once suggested that Kenny go off and commit suicide because he was such a poor politician.

On the September 30th edition of ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’, he suggested that Kenny should "lock himself in a dark room with a gun and a bottle of whiskey." He later apologized for the remark.

Kenny however, was not mollified,saying that he had been in enough homes in Ireland where a family member had committed suicide to know the real pain and hurt that it caused.

Browne is a ferocious inquisitor, Ireland's answer to Mike Wallace of '60 Minutes' and a trailblazer in Irish journalism who established Magill Magazine and the just closed Sunday Tribune newspaper.

There is no doubt his comments on Kenny crossed a line however, but Kenny is leaving himself open to renewed criticism that he is dodging a debate.

How all this plays out is hard to know. There will be other debates which may mean this flap is soon forgotten and one can certainly see Kenny's point that Browne has crossed a line.

But the issue once again focuses on whether Kenny is dodging a debate which is never good ground to be standing on.

However, he could turn it to his advantage by focusing on the issue of suicide which is a huge problem in Ireland right now.

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