Mansergh out but pleased to have avoided ‘personal humiliation’

Fianna Fail’s Dr Martin Mansergh is considering running for the Seanad in the wake of losing his Dail seat as he believes he still has something to contribute to public life.

Fianna Fail’s Dr Martin Mansergh is considering running for the Seanad in the wake of losing his Dail seat as he believes he still has something to contribute to public life.

The outgoing Minister of State was one of a long list of high profile Fianna Fail casualties across the country in the election as voters vented their anger at the Fianna Fail/Green Coalition Government’s performance.

The party’s strategy of running just one candidate in the constituency wasn’t enough to save the Fianna Fail seat and Dr Mansergh was eliminated after the fourth count.

He looked a forlorn figure as he waited to congratulate Seamus Healy on his election as the independent was engulfed by rejoicing supporters.

It was a far cry from the 2007 General Election when a national swing to Fianna Fail secured him the party’s second seat in the constituency and pushed out Healy by a mere 59 votes.

Nevertheless, his defeat was not unexpected given the collapse in support for Fianna Fail nationally and he said he was actually pleased with the first preference vote he achieved.

“By the standards of Fianna Fail today I got a very respectable vote. There was always a very strong possibility that I would lose my seat.

“I did think that I had a chance and I think that the count has shown that I did have a chance. But given the strength of the anti-government vote, it was going to be quite difficult, notwithstanding that I was the only candidate standing.

“When all is said and done, in the current circumstances, over 5,000 first preferences, is actually higher than I got in 2002. It is a fairly good vote.

Given that I had the most marginal seat in the country after the last election, it is far from humiliation for me personally.

“I am glad that I had the opportunity to give an account to the electorate of what I have done over the past four years. One of Seamus Healy’s supporters said to me just now ‘Thank you for all the good work you did’.”

When asked whether Mattie McGrath’s defection had an impact on the Fianna Fail campaign, he said McGrath didn’t have a party organisation behind him but on the other hand he appealed to the “prevalent anger, anti-establishment vote” and did it very well.

“I wish him well but I don’t honestly see him and Fianna Fail coming together again. But that will be for other people to determine.”

Dr Mansergh said he was considering his options at the moment. He confirmed he may go for the Seanad but would have to consult with others before making his decision.

“The Seanad will still be there for the next term anyway, it can’t just be abolished straight away for constitutional reasons, and if it is to be abolished, the people will have to decide that,” said Dr Mansergh, who was a senator before being elected to the Dail.

The former government advisor, who played a key advisory in the Peace Process, said he had enjoyed being a parliamentarian for nearly nine years and enjoyed immensely the variety of his role as Minister of State in the Department of Finance with responsibility for the OPW and Arts and Culture.

“I was second to Brian Lenihan in the Department of Finance. I would almost say the icing on the cake was the arts and culture side of it.

“I packed a lot into the past two-and-a-half years and I do think I have been able to make a contribution to the things I put my hand to.

“The Clonmel flood scheme is going ahead well and two things I am most proud of locally is the decentralisation to Tipperary Town and the Excel Centre.

“I do think that while others contributed to the development of those projects, they wouldn’t actually have come to fruition if I had not been minister.”