Martin Mansergh

Martin George Southcote Mansergh (born 31 December 1946) is an Irish former Fianna Fáil politician who served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance and Minister of State for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Tipperary South constituency from 2007 to 2011. He was a Senator for the Agricultural Panel from 2002 to 2007.[1]

Martin Mansergh
Minister of State at the Department of Finance
In office
May 2008  26 February 2011
TaoiseachBrian Cowen
Preceded byNoel Ahern
Succeeded byBrian Hayes
Minister of State for the Arts
In office
7 May 2008  9 March 2011
TaoiseachBrian Cowen
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Teachta Dála
In office
May 2007  February 2011
ConstituencyTipperary South
In office
September 2002  May 2007
ConstituencyAgricultural Panel
Personal details
Martin George Southcote Mansergh

(1946-12-31) 31 December 1946
Surrey, England
Political partyFianna Fáil
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

He played a leading role in formulating Fianna Fáil policy on Northern Ireland.

Early and personal life

Mansergh was born on 31 December 1946 in Woking, Surrey, England to Diana Mary (née Keeton) and Professor Nicholas Mansergh OBE, a Tipperary-born Irish historian.[2] Although himself born in England, Mansergh's forefathers were part of the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy and arrived in Ireland with Oliver Cromwell. He was raised in England and lived in the Cambridgeshire town of Little Shelford. He was educated at The King's School, Canterbury and Christ Church, Oxford, studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics and obtaining a Doctorate in philosophy for a study of pre-revolutionary French history. An Anglican, Mansergh is a member of the Church of Ireland.[3]


He entered the Department of Foreign Affairs, being appointed a Third secretary in 1974 and became a First Secretary in 1977. Later recruited by Taoiseach Charles Haughey, he worked for the Fianna Fáil party thereafter, serving under three Fianna Fáil leaders as Director of Research, Policy and Special Advisor on Northern Ireland where he was involved in discussions between the nationalist parties and the Irish Government and met regularly with intermediary Father Alec Reid.

Mansergh was a key member of the team which formed the Fianna FáilLabour Party coalition in 1992[4] and was also involved in the formation of the Fianna FáilProgressive Democrats coalition in 1997.[4] As a senior adviser[4] to successive Taoisigh, Mansergh has played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process over the last twenty years. He ran for Fianna Fáil as a Dáil candidate in the Tipperary South constituency at the 2002 general election but failed to be elected with 14.2% of the poll.[5] However, Mansergh was elected to the 22nd Seanad by the Agricultural Panel in July of that year. At the 2007 general election he again ran for Fianna Fáil as a Dáil candidate in the Tipperary South constituency, this time being elected with 15.7% of the poll.[6] He was formerly a member of the Irish Council of State.

Until 2006 he wrote a weekly column for The Irish Times, but resigned because of the upcoming general election. In May 2008, he was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, as well as Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism with special responsibility for the Arts.

In January 2009, he offered to quit his junior ministry post to save money and called on people to retain their Celtic Tiger style optimism and self-respect. He said: "We're not going to get anywhere by completely throwing overboard our self respect. We have achieved a tremendous amount in the past 20 years – they were the best 20 years in our history. There will be cycles – we rose very high and we are where we are now. We have to work our way out of this intelligently".

He lost his seat at the 2011 general election.[1]

He is vice-chair of the government's Expert Advisory Group on the Decade of Centenaries.

He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in May 2018.[7]

He has been a frequent contributor to The Irish Catholic.[8]

Media image

Mansergh has been a strong supporter of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, whose financial affairs were investigated by the Mahon Tribunal. He has been accused by some commentators of being insulting, condescending and petulant to opposition politicians.[9]

On an RTÉ radio[10] show Morning Ireland in February 2008, Mansergh reassured listeners that Ahern's difficulties were no more than a spot of "inflight turbulence," with a safe landing in sight. When Fine Gael's tribunal expert, Senator Eugene Regan dissented, Mansergh became quite agitated, questioning why Regan wanted to question Ahern's finances declaring to Regan that: "You should have respect for your betters!"[10]

Honours and awards

Along with Fr Alec Reid and the Reverend Roy Magee, he was awarded the 1995 Tipperary International Peace Award,[11] now described as "Ireland's outstanding award for humanitarian work".[12] Carlow College awarded its inaugural St. Columbanus Medal in November 2018, to Mansergh, in recognition of his contribution to the peace process in Ireland.[13]


  1. "Martin Mansergh". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  2. Martin Mansergh interviewed by Tommy Graham, "In the Service of the State", History Ireland Magazine, Vol. 12, no.3, Autumn 2004, pp.43–6.
  3. Ellis, Ian (8 October 2010). "Canon Ian Ellis Interviews Minister Martin Mansergh TD". Church of Ireland Gazette. Archived from the original (audio) on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  4. Rafter, Kevin,Martin Mansergh-a Biography
  5. "Martin Mansergh". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  6. "General election 2007 – Tipperary South". Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  7. RIA website
  8. The Irish Catholic
  9. "The Big House Award for Maintaining Standards and Putting Manners on the Lower Orders". The Irish Times. 27 December 2008.
  10. "RTÉ Radio interview link". RTÉ News. 22 February 2008.
  11. "Tipperary Peace Convention". Tipperary Peace Convention. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  12. Ralph Riegel (21 August 2013). "Mandela, Clinton and Geldof among the former winners". Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  13. Former Tipperary TD and Minister Martin Mansergh to be honoured as a peacemaker Tipperary Live, October 18, 2018.

Further reading

  • Mansergh, Martin, The Legacy of History for Making Peace in Ireland, ISBN 978-1-85635-389-2, ISBN 1-85635-389-3
  • Rafter, Kevin, Martin Mansergh – A Biography, ISBN 978-1-904301-05-9
  • 2009 Comment on Irish unity

"Speech at John Hewitt International School 2018:Transcending Boundaries of the Past and the Future ".

Preceded by
Séamus Healy
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Tipperary South
Succeeded by
Séamus Healy
Political offices
Preceded by
Noel Ahern
Minister of State at the Department of Finance
(with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works)

Succeeded by
Brian Hayes
New office Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism
(with special responsibility for the Arts)

Succeeded by
Office abolished
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