Sinn Féin has said it would be a "sham" for TV leader debates to go ahead without party president Mary Lou McDonald and that it was considering legal action to reverse this.
At the launch of the party's 42 candidates for 38 constituencies in Dublin, Ms McDonald called for “fairness”.
This follows a decision by RTÉ and Virgin Media to host head-to-head debates between Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin.
Deputy Sinn Féin leader Pearse Doherty confirmed he has written to the two stations asking them to include Sinn Féin in the planned two debates.
He said he is awaiting replies and that the party has sought legal advice.
The move comes after an Irish Times/IPSOS MRBI poll put Sinn Féin up seven points to 21%.
Ms McDonald said, indifferent of the poll, that her party should be allowed to have its leader in the two debates.
The Green Party previously took action against RTÉ in the last election to ensure it was included in TV debates.
However, Ms McDonald did not confirm that Sinn Féin would take legal action to stop the programmes.
Instead, she appealed to the broadcasters to engage in “fairness”.
Meanwhile, deputy leader Mr Doherty launched a stinging attack on the outgoing Fine Gael-led government, claiming “Leo's Cabinet of posh boys has shown a harshness and a complete lack of empathy” with people.
He also said any exclusion of Sinn Féin from the RTÉ TV debate was an “insult” to taxpayers and TV licence holders.
RTE had done a shameful “disservice” to those households, added Mr Doherty.