Saoirse McHugh on THAT Prime Time appearance: “I thought I was going to be sick” 1 year ago

Saoirse McHugh on THAT Prime Time appearance: “I thought I was going to be sick”

“I felt like someone had their hand around my throat.”

Saoirse McHugh has revealed that she thought she was going to be sick and that Mairead McGuinness advised her to stop drinking so much water for fear she’d need a toilet break ahead of her recent appearance in a Prime Time TV debate.


The Mayo native was ultimately eliminated from the recent European elections in the Midlands North West constituency, but the first-time candidate has emerged with an enhanced reputation on the back of recent public appearances and was a major part of the "green wave" that saw the Green Party make a significant impact in the elections.

Her appearance in the Prime Time debate made McHugh the centre of attention at a national level, particularly after she challenged Peter Casey (McHugh revealed she had contacted Casey personally before the debate) for his views on immigration and took him down a peg or two with the now famous barb: "If you want the attention that much, go on Dancing With The Stars."

While McHugh’s polished performance belied any hint of nervousness in what was her first appearance on live TV, she revealed that she was a nervous wreck before going on air.

Speaking to Dion Fanning on this week's episode of Ireland Unfiltered, McHugh said: “I was so afraid going on. I was like ‘No, I would prefer to be like righteously indignant about not being invited on Prime Time all over my social media, people, I do not want to actually go on’.

“I was so nervous because I had watched the Ireland South debate.

“I was like ‘Jesus that was tough’.

“Going up onto stage or onto whatever it is -  yeah, the stage -  I felt like someone had their hand around my throat. I thought I was going to be sick. My mouth was so dry. My throat was closing up and I kept drinking a rake of water.


“Like, Mairead McGuinness was saying to me ‘Stop that! You’ll have to wee. Stop it, stop it’ and she was handing me Tic Tacs, fair play to her, because I just couldn’t speak at all. My mouth was so dry.  I was sculling water.

“I had studied so hard. I thought defence would be a really big thing. I thought that was going to come up. So I had studied loads about defence and my hobby horse is agriculture so I had done a load of studying on that. I had been talking about the common fisheries policy and Brexit. I was so prepped and then it just devolved into like - I’m sure you saw what it devolved into. And I hadn’t been prepared for that.

“Matt Carthy made a very good point and he said like, ‘This is taking up all the air in another election. Can we please talk about what you will be voting for these people to do? Can we talk about their politics and their policy?’

“Because we spent 20 minutes I think, talking about - shouting about - immigrants and stopping within EU migration and nonsense really.”

You can check out the full episode below:


Ireland Unfiltered, brought to you in partnership with Carlsberg Unfiltered, will be available everywhere you get your podcasts and on YouTube every Tuesday.