Wednesday 29 March 2017

The Doughty Dozen

Martin Mansergh FF -- Tipperary South

Google the name 'Martin Mansergh' and YouTube videos will flash up of the Oxford scholar's high-octane, rising squeals on debate shows.

Routinely wheeled out because he will always robustly defend government policy. Off microphone, he is much more mild-mannered.

Michael Noonan FG -- Limerick East

Speaks slowly and with emphasis, rarely changing tone or volume, to give the air of calm authority -- a massive asset for a party pledging stability.

Real-life persona is equally calm and measured. Distinguished accent makes him a prime candidate for impersonations.

Dan Boyle Greens -- Cork South Central

Wheeled out to fly kites, stir trouble and insist that the Greens aren't Fianna Fail-Lite, he can coherently explain the intricacies of policy detail.

Under intense grilling, however, he's prone to getting wound-up. When the cameras aren't rolling, he is sensitive to criticisms but always ready to listen to others.

Joan Burton

Lab -- Dublin West

Nob Nation has branded her 'Moan Burton', given her propensity to go on angry attacks. Prone to start answering questions before the end of the question has been reached, she is a non-stop talker in real life.

Party handlers appreciate she has the ability to tap into people's raw anger.

Pearse Doherty

SF -- Donegal South West

The new credible face of Sinn Fein never diverts from a serious tone and sharp soundbites delivered in a Donegal lilt.

But he risks massive media overkill, given the party's small cohort of polished performers. Off microphone, he remains serious while exuding a quiet confidence.

Mary O'Rourke

FF -- Longford/Westmeath

One of the most experienced media performers, the Mother of the Dail is a master of the subtle and not-so-subtle digs.

When no one is recording, she loves seeking the opinions and political gossip of others, in exchange for her own nuggets of information.

Leo Varadkar

FG-Dublin West

Having toned down his right-wing rhetoric, the brash and ultra-confident Fine Gael young gun still likes to provoke a reaction and set himself apart.

In reality, he's much shier and a more humble and modest character than his on-screen persona.

Mary Coughlan

FF-Donegal South West

The Tanaiste routinely clicks into Civil Service-speak, sticks to the script and reheats chunks of timeworn material, having developed an increasingly cautious attitude to the media.

Often the humorous, compassionate and very personable aspects of her personality don't break through in interviews.

Pat Rabbitte

Lab -- Dublin South West

His quick wit and sometimes grumpy persona have won him huge acclaim since he broke free of the constraints of leadership. His big moment of 2010 came when he berated minister Pat Carey on Prime Time.

What you see on TV is what you get in reality and he remains one of Labour's most assured media performers.

Conor Lenihan FF-Dublin South West

Repeatedly reverts to the "in my personal opinion" corner, before launching his rebellious tirade in a hoarse, winded voice. But that preparedness to cross lines leaves him open to heavy hits.

Off-screen, he is equally eccentric but a straight talker.

Michael Ring FG-Mayo

Schooled in shouty, dramatic, ever-accelerating and exaggerative speeches, he is renowned for his angry sermons in the Dail.

Off microphone, the anecdotes, stories and titbits of gossip are ever plentiful as he ramps up the "craic factor".

Paul Gogarty

Greens -- Dublin Mid-West

An advocate of the early hit-and-run style of debate, he likes to go on the offensive by riling opponents and putting them on the defensive.

The high-risk tactic often leaves the rebellious TD getting diverted into pointless spats. When the cameras aren't rolling, he's a very reflective and much more measured personality.

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