Tipperary South: No quarter given as loyal soldier Mansergh takes on former ally
Published 08/02/2011 | 05:00
IN the battle of the loyal reverent soldier and the rebel irreverent warrior, either Martin Mansergh or Mattie McGrath is poised to retreat and lose.
The Oxford-trained junior minister versus the de-whipped Fianna Fail backbencher-turned-Independent should make for perfect election theatre.
But Mr Mansergh insists that he doesn't see himself "exclusively competing" against Mr McGrath for one of the three seats in play.
And he claims the two opposites have worked in a "constructive manner" since they pulled off a shock two-seat win in 2007.
This time, however, Mr Mansergh is the sole Fianna Fail candidate after three candidates bowed out at the selection convention following orders for a one-candidate strategy from party headquarters.
And he contends there isn't a so-called "safe seat" in the constituency with two Fine Gael candidates, two Independents, one Labour, one Sinn Fein and one Green in contention.
"I don't spend my whole time obsessing about my position in the constituency. I take the view that you are elected there to do a job. I was given ministerial responsibilities to fulfil. It wasn't my job to be spending my whole time looking over my shoulder," Mr Mansergh said.
There is always a "certain contrast" in all constituencies between someone with ministerial responsibilities and a backbench TD who can be more proactive locally. But a minister can sometimes deliver "more things of substance", he said.
"All the candidates are competing against each other. I don't see myself as exclusively competing against Mattie. In fact, last time out, I displaced Seamus Healy who may be hoping to displace either me or Mattie," Mr Mansergh said.
Now after 36 years of public service, Mr Mansergh is trying to stave off the threat of the former Independent TD Mr Healy with election posters focusing on three key words: experience, influence and achievement.
With Labour also trying to take the seat once held by Mr Healy, the only certainty is Fine Gael's Tom Hayes will be returned again. That leaves his running mate Michael Murphy, Mr Mansergh, Mr McGrath, Mr Healy and Labour's Phil Prendergast in a nail-biting dogfight for the other seats.
Martin Mansergh TD
Tom Hayes TD
Cllr Michael Murphy
Senator Phil Prendergast
Mattie McGrath TD
Cllr Seamus Healy
Last time out in 2007
? Fine Gael’s Tom Hayes topped the poll and was elected on the fifth count.
? Mattie McGrath was elected after a colourful campaign which included the song ‘Our Guy, Your Guy’
? Senator Martin Mansergh squaked past Independent TD Seamus Healy by 59 votes to take the last seat
? SEATS 4
?VOTERS PER TD 14,160