Mansergh gets rattled on Hearts and Minds tonight…

Hearts and Minds should be worth watching tonight… Self styled ‘Socialist’ Fianna Fail TD Martin Mansergh gets pretty vexed during a debate with journalist Margaret Ward. In Margaret’s own words:

…he stormed out claiming I was a populist and he couldn’t believe someone with views like mine worked for the Irish Times! Basically, I asked him some hard questions, challenged his views and he did not like it. I guess he is not used to people standing up to him.

Unfortunately, he waits to the end of the discussion before he turns and walks, so there’ll be no tables or furniture turned over… As it happens, Martin got pretty agitated on the Vincent Browne Show last week… The ungentlemanly pressure of the political bear market is obviously getting to him…

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  • Ted

    Irish politicians have to be held to a higher standard. The main stream media give them an easy ride. I think we could do with some American style radio talk shows that really tell it like it is.

  • Glensman

    Can’t wait to see this; Manseragh’s reaction on the Vincent Browne show was cringe worthy- he giggled like an idiot when faced with even mild questions…

  • ABC

    Best one ever was one he told a Fine Gael Senator to “respect your betters”!

  • ABC

    second “one” should be “when”

  • Ulsters not for sale

    More cross border quibbles. Why can’t we all get along?

  • Devil Eire

    I was particularly amused by the advice from one of Margaret’s students to the Irish government in the face of the current economic crisis:

    “Join the commonwealth again…”

  • Ulster

    British Hearts and minds interviewing southern politicians…

    ….how are you going to remove the British aspect?

  • It was hilarious.

    Margaret Ward interupted him every time Mansergh opened his mouth. Then the first time he interupted her, she blurts: “Excuse me, Can I speak?”

    It’s as well that she’s a woman. Had she been a man, Mansergh would have landed one (if he was so minded). She’s a little nark.

  • Credit Crunch

    John O’Connell
    You beat me to the cheek of the “Excuse me, can I speak” bit. One was as annoying as the other – she maybe slightly more so. Sitting looking down her nose at him, or sneering, when not coming out with daft recovery ideas that sound good but can’t be elaborated on because they’re essentially meaningless.
    As for Martin, you feel like screaming “spit it out man, for God’s sake”.
    Hilarious, an Englishman and an American woman, on British television, arguing about how Ireland should sort out its problems.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Hearts and Minds is edited (quite obviously) so surely the BBC are likely to cut any “dirt” ?

  • Dave

    I thought her hysteria culminated satisfactorily in her dire warning that unspecified foreign powers were about to take over the governance of the country under some unspecified ‘Inept Regime Change Directive’ because once again the Irish were found unfit to govern themselves. Priceless.

    Also, someone should tell Mr Thomson that the 3% restriction of fiscal borrowing as a percentage of GDP is a tweak under the Growth & Stability Pack to facilitate monetary union and that it isn’t an objective gauge of the prudence of fiscal policy outside of that criterion.

  • Clay Davis

    Was that Mansergh?I thought BBC NI was running ‘I Claudius’.

  • dunreavynomore

    I couldn’t stand either of them for long, was surprised at how poor Manseragh was and expected more from Ward given Mick’s lead in.

  • Mick Fealty


    There’s no cut…

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’ll definitely have to look out for it then 🙂

  • Dave

    Also, I wish the whinger who lamented that he had returned from Canada to Ireland would fuck off back to Canada and stop running his own country down. He is typical of the me-generation of ‘Ask not what you can do for your country; ask only what your country can do for you.’ These self-serving types clear off during the hard times, allowing others to do the hard work of building the economy back up, and then ponder if they should grace the country with their presence during the good times.

  • Comrade Stalin


    There is of course the argument that those who left the country during the hard times, instead of hanging around being unemployed, assisted with the country’s economic rise in the first place.

  • Credit Crunch

    What the hell is going on here. First I agree with John O’Connell, then I find myself in complete agreement with Dave on both his points. Agreement just isn’t an Irish thing.
    Maybe I was adopted from some foreign country and the parents never told me.

  • Scaramoosh

    “he couldn’t believe someone with views like mine worked for the Irish Times!”

    Much in the same vein of the boyos in the Anglogate scandal, thinking that nobody would ever bother to catch them out….I mean, after all, they were just trying to save an “entrepreneurial” Irish bank.

    Oh the times they are a changin.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Rats, I didn’t get to see him “storm out”.

    Mansergh came across as a waffling intellectual pigmy, completely out of his depth. I didn’t think that Margaret interrupted her, it seemed that she was impatient (as I was) waiting for something to come out of his mouth that actually meant anything. Aside from that he seems a bit weird, he raises his voice drastically whenever anyone tries to interject. Typical of the non-politician the sheep-like Irish electorate vote in because it has a Fianna Fail badge on.

  • iluvni

    so, we poor Northern Irish arent getting the promised Free State pot of gold then?

  • He was very hard to listen to – and watch! He nearly punched her in the stomach a few times with those karate chop arm movements…. we think some of our ministers are bad….

  • Mansergh is Irish, but educated in England. She was extremely rude, and arrogant. I’m also surprised no-one has picked up on the fact that when Mansergh said you can’t make people feel all the pain at once, she answered ‘why not?’ Clearly she is exactly the type of free market ideologue who got us into this problem in the first place. And the patronising talk to people, they’re smart thing in connection with this shows how vacuous she is, never mind Mansergh.

  • Credit Crunch

    Agree entirely with you. That was her “Let them eat cake” moment.
    I was amused and embarrassed by him, but frightened that she is lauded as some sort of “economic expert” who, God help us, somebody employs to write.

  • It is frightening that it is ideologues like her, who got us into this situation, that are setting the media agenda for dealing with the crisis. We are talking about two billion euro. There are people in the south worth that. I’d like to hear Margaret Ward talk about making the mega-rich suffer (especially those involved in corruption scandals) rather than ordinary workers.

  • Comrade Stalin


    Aside from that admittedly rather revealing comment that she made, I interpreted most of her contribution as a call for immediate state intervention. The anecdote was given of a company that folded for want of a few thousand Euro which it was unable to borrow; her clear implication was that the state should have been involved to correct this.

    The mega-rich have been getting away with scandal like this for the past number of decades, most frequently at the behest of Fianna Fail. If the Irish people see fit to continuously reward Fianna Fail by returning them to government in spite of their crass corruption, I am not sure what there is that anyone else can do. I hope that people in Ireland are finally going to understand that there are consequences reverberating from their decision at the ballot box beyond replaying a stupid “pick sides in the civil war” game.

  • Mack

    Garibaldy, actually we’re talking of a rapidly expanding deficit, currently upwards of 20 billion Euro..

  • Glencoppagagh

    Far from being a free market ideologue, Ms Ward appeared to by nothing more than a populist harpie. Mansergh, by contrast, came across as a bumbling academic, utterly ill-suited to the facile level of argument that prevails on TV and to which Ms Ward seems eminently suited

  • Garibaldy


    I was referring to the figure given as the reason for the so-called pension levy, given that Mansergh was talking about the protest march, and opposition from the unions. There are less painful ways of finding this money, if the political will is there, and from people who can better afford it.


    More state intervention in one respect, but not in the way it is traditionally understood I think. What she is basically calling for is the state to provide money to businesses while savaging public spending. In other words, support the private sector that in happier times wants nothing to do with the state and to be left alone by it with its annoying regulations and minimum wage, while making ordinary workers pay for it. It is quite clear from that comment that the type of state intervention she is calling for is facing down the unions and all the rest of the usual Thatcherite rhetoric. I think Glencoppagh that a populist approach is not this one, although I agree Mansergh is not an effective politician in this setting.

  • If Martin Mansergh is a socialist, why did he not join the Labour Party?

    And isn’t it deeply inappropriate for such a senior former civil servant to enter party politics after his retirement. Still, suppose it confirms all we knew about the DFFA anyway.

  • Mack

    Garibaldy – How do you think less well off private sector workers fund their (inferior) pensions? Irish public sector workers are among the best paid workers in the world (the ITCU’s David Begg earns over €130k for example).

    I didn’t hear you complain when benchmarking raised public sector workers salaries to 25-30% higher than those of private sector workers!

    Perhaps you think we can fund high public sector wages, by raising taxes for those well paid public sector workers earning over, say, €72,000 (twice average industrial wage, average public sector wage is €50k) ? Why not just cap their salaries at €72k ?

  • Mack,

    Is Begg funded by the state? I suspect not.

    There are many people in the southern public sector who are overpaid. If taxes need raised, then raise them. But spread the pain, and hit hardest those who can best afford it. Especially when those who have benefited most from the Celtic Tiger, building boom etc have shown flagrant disregard for the law and ethics, even up to the recent AIB scandal. Punish these people first.

    The tax base in the south is too small. But this is not because of high public sector wages, but because of a scandalous approach to taxation which overwhelmingly favours the rich and the super-rich.

  • Mack

    Garibaldy – Nearly 40% of workers pay no income tax in the south. How do you square that with your statements?

    The average wage in the private sector is 36,000 and nearly 50,000 in the public sector. We are not a poor country.

    Now forgive me, I work in the private sector. I’ll find out soon if I still have a job. I contribute to my defined contribution pension, which depends on the amount I put in and the performance of the stock market . I regard myself as pretty lucky in general. I’m not going to strike over any of that. Why on earth, should higher paid public servants strike when asked to make a tax deductable contribution to their pensions – same as the rest of us? Why should I feel sorry for them?

    I’ll definetely grant you that it was unfair that it was tax deductable at all (as ps workers are overpaid, and tax deductability benefits those on high salaries who skew the average updwards).

    Also Public Sector workers were one of the big winners of the bubble years. Bubble tax revenues went straight into their pockets via benchmarking.

    We’re not talking about taking from the poor, but rather asking some of the best paid public sector workers in the world to contribute. That’s it.

    Would you agree to capping all public sector salaries at twice the national average?

  • Why do these 40% pay no income tax? I think this is a wider question about quality of life in a country where a pint can cost a fiver, never mind a house or anything else.

    As I’ve said, those who can afford to contribute should be made to do so. But it must be on a progressive scale, with those most able to pay having to pay the most. As for a salary cap, I am not averse to the idea, but I would want it linked to action being taken to keep down costs as well. If we expect to control wages, there is no reason not to do the same to prices.

  • Mack

    I think this is a wider question about quality of life in a country where a pint can cost a fiver, never mind a house or anything else.

    Well, I think that is key, but typical that everything get’s priced in pints, lol!

    There’s been too much price gouging. Pure, proper competition should drive prices lower – even if that competition in retail comes from Newry.

    A sensible housing strategy, that prevents bubbles, would help in stop us getting into this parlous state ever again too..

  • “A sensible housing strategy, that prevents bubbles, would help in stop us getting into this parlous state ever again too..”


  • Dave

    An even more sensible strategy would have been for countries to retain sovereignty over the regulations and monetary policies that created the “bubbles” as the EU has finally admitted that it is responsible for making an utter mess out of the financial sector regulations and monetary policies that it encouraged the member states to transfer to it:

    “The root cause of our current distress was a combination of overly lax monetary policy and macroeconomic imbalances. These conditions encouraged the build-up of excess leverage in certain Western economies.

    As the De Larosière Report, published yesterday, states “Liquidity and low interest rates have been the major underlying factors behind the present crisis, but financial innovation amplified and accelerated the consequences of excess liquidity and rapid credit expansion”.

    While our regulation was not the root cause, our financial regulatory and supervisory system aided and abetted the super-bubble. It did not stem the flow of leverage through the financial system. It allowed the emergence of business models based on flimsy and highly leveraged foundations. It tolerated relaxed lending practices and the accumulation of unsustainable debt by households, individuals and companies.” – Charlie McCreevy, EU Commissioner responsible for Internal Market and Services

    He may qualify his admission of liability by claiming that “our regulation was not the root cause” but he admits that EU “financial regulatory and supervisory system aided and abetted the super-bubble.”

    Of course it did, since it was EU directives in regulation of capital requirements that allowed the EU’s banks to become the highest leveraged in the world. This aided and abetted the expansionist monetary policy of the EU’s ECB which was that the banks should meet the ECB-engineered demand for cheap credit by leveraging upwards. The ECB set the policy rate too low for too long and the EU set the leverage rate too high, thereby allowing the expansionist monetary policy to bring the European monetary system to the brink of destruction.

  • Mack

    We’re back to that one, eh Dave?

    Is it the policy or the ECB you are objecting to? As most central banks followed the same policy (led by the US fed).

    I’d agree with what Charlie McCreevy said. I don’t disagree that ECB policy was too lax for Ireland, but neither do I agree our policy makers thought lax monetary policy was a bad idea.