Martin Mansergh

Life
1946 - ; b., in England, 31 Dec. 1946, son of Nicholas Mansergh; ed. in England; grad. PhD (History), Oxon.; served in Dept. of Foreign Affairs, 3rd Sec., 1974; pol. adviser on Northern Ireland to three taoiseachs [toaisigh] from 1981 - successively to Haughey, Reynolds and Ahern; elected Senator, 2002 [Agricultural Panel]; contrib. column to The Irish Times to 2006; elected TD for Tipperary South TD (Fianna Fáil) , 2007-11; called Ahern’s troubles ‘inflight turbulence’ in RTE interview, (Feb. 2008); appt. to cabinet by Brian Cowan as Minister for Finance and Public Works, 2008; lost his Fianna Fáil seat (cum mult. al.) in general election of 2011; farms with his brother at Clanwilliam, Co. Tipperary; his wife restored oriental carpets.

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Works

  • The Legacy of History, foreword by Bertie Ahern (Cork: Mercier Press 2003);
  • Cross-border bodies and the north-south relationship [Working papers in British-Irish studies, 12] (Dublin: Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2001), 16pp.;
  • ‘Closing address’, in The impact of devolution on everyday life, 1999-2009 [Working papers in British-Irish studies, 84] (Dublin: Institute for British-Irish Studies [UCD] 2009), 16pp. [with George Quigley [opening address]; Tony Kennedy [‘Has devolution delivered a shared society in Northern Ireland?’].

Miscellaneous, Foreword to J. Anthony Gaughan, ed., Memoirs of Senator Joseph Connolly, 1885-1961: A Founder of Modern Ireland (IAP 1996).

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Criticism
Kevin Rafter, Martin Mansergh: A Biography (New Island), 347pp. [see review, infra]. See also Marie O’Halloran, Irish Times interview article (1 Sept. 2011). Tommy Graham, ‘In the Service of the State’, interview, History Ireland, 12, 3 (Autumn 2004),pp.43-6.

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Commentary
Noel Dorr, review of Kevin Rafter, Martin Mansergh: A Biography (New Island), in The Irish Times (9 Nov. 2002), “Weekend”: Mansergh has been principal adviser on N. Ireland to three Toaisigh [Haughey, Reynolds, Ahern]; involved in prolonged negotiations with Sinn Féin on behalf of Charles Haughey, at first in opposition and then in govt., a sustained debate on the theology of republicanism; deep commitment to republican ideal and belief in its political pursuit without violence; won trust of Republican movement; called ‘invaluable asset’ in the Peace Process by John Major.

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Quotations
Manufacturing Consent’, Fortnight, 350 (May 1996), pp.13-15: writes on the question ‘why consent must go both ways’; draws comprehensively on John Locke arguing that ‘till their rulers put them under such a frame of Government, as they willingly, and of choice consent to’, they have a right to shake off its yoke; also on John Stuart Mill’s concept of ‘true democracy’, viz., ‘Looking at democracy in the way in which it is commonly conceived as the rule of the numerical majority, it is surely possible that the ruling power may be under the domain of sectional or class interests, pointing to conduct different from that which would be dictated by impartial regard for the interest of all. Suppose the majority to be whites, the minority Negroes, or vice versa: is it likely that the majority would allow equal justice to the minority? Suppose the majority is Catholic, the minority is Protestants, or the reverse; will there not be the same danger? Or let the majority be English, the minority Irish, or the contrary, is there not a great probability of similar evil?’ Also quotes General Hugh Montgomery (member of Unionist Council, 1936, fndr. of Irish Association, and author of the UN Declaration on Principals of International Law, 1960): ‘the establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State, or the emergence into any other political status, freely determined by a people constitutes modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people’; Mansergh concludes that republicans should ‘update their understanding of self-determination and align it with current international law and practice [while] British [should] broaden their understanding of the principal of consent.’

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Ireland and India: ‘At the time of partition both countries were within a single polity, the British imperials system, and and in each case the partition took place coincidentally in time with a transfer of power, albeit limited in the Irish case, to indigenous authorities […] In a triangular pre-transfer of power situation there is, all affinities supposed or actual apart, a tendency for the second and third parties the minority and the outgoing imperial power, to be drawn together in resistance to the demands of the first, the majority Nationalist party. Indeed it is close to a law of politics.’ […; q. source.]

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The Future Path of Peace’, in The Irish Reporter [Special Issue: “What Peace Process?”] (21 (Feb. 1996), pp.49-57: ‘There will always be argument as to whether violence served any real purpose. Most would share former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds’ and John Hume’s opinion that it never had any justification. That was also Gusty Spence’s view in relation to loyalist violence in the immediate aftermath of the loyalist ceasefire. Others, however, contend that the IRA campaign was largely responsible for political gains by nationalists, such as the Anglo-Irish Agreement. If so, they were dearly bought. It is surely wrong to assume that nothing would have changed, no progress would have been made, in the absence of violence, but counter-factual hypotheses can by their nature never be proved one way or the other.’

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The Future Path of Peace’ (Feb. 1996) - cont.: ‘What is certain is that by the time of the ceasefires the dangers and counter-productiveness of further prolonged conflict had become increasingly evident. It is equally certain that a united Ireland was no closer in 1994 than it had been in 1969. The human and political costs associated with armed struggle would not have gone away if for any reason it were ever to be resumed. Trying to end conflict on any balanced or acceptable basis could be even more difficult a second; time round. Republicans can see that the British Government and unionists would try to claim vindication for their sceptical and minimalist response to the opportunities provided by the ceasefires, even if in fact the very opposite were the case, and would try to make much stiffer demands, with the alternative political process, through all-party talks, perhaps no longer on offer, assuming it were still credible. [...; p.50] The situation in the North of Ireland after fifty years of Partition was different from the situation of Ireland in 1919 in a chaotic and turbulent Europe at the end of the First World War.’ [Cont.]

The Future Path of Peace’ (Feb. 1996) - cont.: ‘In a revolutionary situation anything seems possible. The collapse of Stormont and of discriminatory one-party Unionist rule under the pressure, first of the civil rights campaign, then of the revolt against heavy-handed attempts at military repression, gave the impression that the end of Partition and the opportunity to create a united Ireland by force was at hand. But it was a mirage. The unionist community, like other communities across Europe in the last twenty years - Cyprus and the former Yugoslavia, for example - had no intention, as a result of violence or the collapse of Stormont, of submitting quietly to the minority status it had forced on Northern nationalists fifty or sixty years previously.’

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The Future Path of Peace’ (Feb. 1996) - cont.: ‘The South never had any real enthusiasm, in the early 1920s or subsequently, for incorporating an unwilling and rebellious unionist minority into a largely homogeneous Irish state, and recognised from very early days that coercion from the South was a practical impossibility, whatever view might be held about the merits of coercion by Britain. De Valera, like Adenauer in post-war Germany, concentrated in practice on building up the independence, sovereignty and democratic institutions of the state, rather than subordinating everything to a unity that he knew to be elusive. Neither allowed themselves to be tempted or deflected by apparent offers of unity in exchange for neutrality in 1940-41 and 1953.’

The Future Path of Peace’ (Feb. 1996) - cont.: ‘The last 25 years have seen a very considerable evolution in the thinking of Irish nationalism. Before 1969 Southern nationalism, like Northern unionism, was imbued with a majoritarian ethos, the only difference being that nationalism prided itself on its scrupulous toleration for the small Southern Protestant minority, whereas unionist leaders before the 1960s prided themselves on not having a Catholic about the place. Toleration was, of course, a much more limited concept than present-day pluralism. Views on Partition that were based on Ireland as a single unit of self-determination, which had undoubted validity in the 1918-21 period, had not greatly altered over the previous half century, although the Lemass government had begun to come to terms with the reality and durability, if not the legitimacy, of Northern Ireland. [...]’ (pp.50-51.)

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