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Raising the tone of the Dáil… the lonely task of Dr. Martin Mansergh January 31, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.


Back in the Dáil, an environment periodically almost as fascinating as the US election, that was some shouting match between the Green Party and Fine Gael. I’ll be interested to see who is regarded as coming out of it best. Paul Gogarty and Ciarán Cuffe whipped themselves into a frenzy of arm waving and finger pointing at the Fine Gael benches. The accusations! The bitterness! The muttered, well, not so muttered words about shady dealing on councils! To be frank, they looked like they were relishing the opportunity. One wonders is there a back story there from the past five years of opposition. Anyway, I’m always dubious about the utility of political theater as exemplified by the first two TDs, but, in truth Gogarty hit the headlines on the RTÉ bulletins. Mary White was rather more restrained, and I caught sight of her on TG4.

Still, I have to say, I’m with Ciarán Cuffe as regards the unbelievably ignorant comments directed at Martin Mansergh when he made a few references in French during his contribution to the debate. The shouts of ‘you’re talking to Irishmen now’ weren’t exactly the high point of parliamentary or democratic debate. Granted one does not hear quotes from (I think) Beaumarchais in our parliamentary debate every day, and I don’t entirely warm to Mansergh, but fair dues for actually writing a speech that deviated a bit from the usual dumbed down boilerplate that we have – unfortunately – had the misfortune of experiencing time and again.

And isn’t the response fascinating. A Little Irelander mentality so close to the surface that one hardly need scratch it… why a phrase in the language of our allies of 1798 will do the trick…

I’m told that the Green Party were fairly pleased with the ultimate counter-motion that was presented to the Dáil. Nary a hint of churlish disdain of the Tribunal. So, perhaps emboldened by this success they decided to go the distance. Got to smile. Recently I was told by a Green party person that they (the GP) were in some sense the lost social democratic wing of FG. There’s more than a little something in that analysis. Still, doesn’t look like they’re going to be refound any day soon at this rate. Loathing is generally an intangible and nebulous thing, but it was strongly evident today.

I should make special mention about Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin’s piece which was dignified and apposite and showed just how to do it if you want to make serious political points against the government and Ahern. But as is all too evident, that’s not the name of this game for some… the japing and buffoonery exhibited at various points – and I’m looking at FG here -demonstrated that principled, and even ethical, considerations are taking a subsidiary place in this contest…


1. CL - January 31, 2008

Their jibes at Mansergh might have more heft if they were made in the first official language rather than as Bearla. Mansergh made an interesting talk to the last Desmond Greaves school-arguing, if I recall correctly, that F.F. and Labour were ideologically attuned to each other, suggesting maybe that F.F. was the party of the working class.


2. JC - January 31, 2008

Their jibes at Mansergh might have more heft if they were made in the first official language rather than as Bearla.

Some of the jibes were.


3. Worldbystorm - January 31, 2008

Were they JC? I wonder if they’ll make it to tomorrow’s transcript?


4. JC - January 31, 2008

Fergus O’Dowd did


5. anarchaeologist - January 31, 2008

Short of turnig this into a god-forbid leftie p.ie bb chat, did anyone hear Mansergh on Morning Ireland this morning (Thursday)?

He made a comment about the role of TDs in the system along the lines of… the truth. Basically their function is, as I’d expected, to facilitate their clients to acquire any benefits, such as they may have, that they’re entitled to already.

So, they’re not elected to legislate. And I thought Mansergh was some sort of intellectual.

I’ll post the link if the mods don’t mind?


6. Eamonn - January 31, 2008

Such jibes are moronic in any language. Why would making them in Irish less so?


7. CL - January 31, 2008

Here’s the official report
-Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Was it Charles Haughey who said that?

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Guided and prompted by a journalist friend, reputedly familiar with Colombia and a variety of passports, as well with the many highways and byways of Irish politics, the witness is a vehicle for floating all sorts of hypotheses in the hope that an investigative trawl will throw up something. Then when documents are circulated, they are promptly leaked to this journalist or other journalists.

The 17th century French writer Nicholas Boileau once said: ”Le vrai peut quelques fois n’être pas vraisemblable.” The truth can sometimes be improbable.

Deputy Shane McEntee: The Deputy is on a world tour.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Abair é sin as Gaeilge.

Deputy Shane McEntee: The Deputy is speaking to the Irish people now-
I suppose they are drawing attention to ‘Irishness’, whatever that is.
maybe these deputies are secret members of the Aubane Society.


8. eamonnmcdonagh - January 31, 2008

errata: “be less so”


9. WorldbyStorm - February 1, 2008

anarchaeologist, please do… Damn Mansergh… Boileau… bah…


10. Cl - February 1, 2008

” he was a high Tory, like Deputy Mansergh” O’Dowd on Edmund Burke. Laughable.


11. Pete - February 1, 2008

Why is it laughable that Tipp TD be declared a ‘high Tory’, he approves of corruption just seeing it as the only way the ignorant Irish can govern themselves. He would also like to help those unfortunate working class understand that FF is as good as it gets for them and they should enjoy the titbits that fall from the corrupt table. He is a faux republican and intellectual. I was sickened by that cretin Ahern referring to Burke in his Westminster speech while attempting to purvey some twisted version of republicanism.


12. WorldbyStorm - February 1, 2008

Are you quite certain you’re not projecting attitudes and beliefs onto the man, Pete? Sure, Mansergh is a man of his class, and generation, but then so are numerous members of the British Labour Party over the years like Benn, etc, who broke away from it. Does he ‘approve’ of corruption?


13. Ed Hayes - February 1, 2008

Manseragh is very much FF’s pet intellactual and a more devious and sneaky character than the ‘bumbling Prod’ exterior might suggest. Very close to CJH for many years of course. But the ‘Irishness’ comments are very much in FG’s character; remember Cosgrave and the ‘mongrel foxes’? If the Greens are their lost social democratic wing then their Blueshirt wing are never lost, just dozing.


14. Pete - February 1, 2008

Approve of corruption – I’m afriad his blatherings in support Haughey (‘a man he is proud to have called a freind’), Reynolds and Ahern leave me with no other possible conclusion


15. JC - February 1, 2008

Does he ‘approve’ of corruption?

He certainly approves of Haughey’s reign as Taoiseach, and continues to see no flaws in the man.

For all his republicanism Mansergh, it should be remembered, is the man who put Fianna Fáil above his country in refusing to be stay in the civil service under John Bruton’s government.

With regard to his internationalism, Mansergh attacked Fine Gael during the election for having some of their election posters printed in Germany.

Just because the guy comes across as an intellectual and quotes French doesn’t make him worthy of praise. I wonder if he has ever heckled members of the opposition?


16. Ed Hayes - February 1, 2008

He probably has but it takes him about three hours to say anything so its not that effective. Thats childish, I know.


17. CL - February 1, 2008

Wasn’t Burke a Whig rather than a Tory?
To attack someone for using a French quotation in an Irish parliament while the entire debate, except for the cupla focail, is conducted in English is laughable.
Fianna Fail has historically received the votes of the working class: Mansergh drew attention to this at the Greaves school.
Mansergh was an ardent defender of the criminal Haughey, and its certainly legitimate to criticize his current efforts on behalf of the ethically-challenged Ahern, but to sneer at the man because of his accent and his suspect ‘Irishness’ is small-minded provincialism.


18. Ed Hayes - February 1, 2008

I agree. But its in FG’s DNA to be small-minded. That people confuse them with cuddly liberal social democrats is partly because of media bias and partly because of fuzzy memories of Garret the Good battling CJH in his mismatched shoes.
But Manseragh is intellectual ballast for property crooks.


19. Garibaldy - February 1, 2008

Burke was a Whig. And claimed, somewhat appropriately for this debate, that they left him rather than the other way round after the blow-up over the French Revolution.


20. Pete - February 1, 2008

Fianna Fail has historically received the votes of the working class: Mansergh drew attention to this at the Greaves school.

Yeah the c was gloating about that

Ed I’ve had difficluties with some of your views before

‘But Manseragh is intellectual ballast for property crooks’

pure class and no more need be said about the man


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