Tuesday 28 February 2017

A former FF press officer, she is his closest adviser

AINE KERR

POLITICALLY savvy and an excellent communicator, the one-time Fianna Fail press officer came to brief public attention in 2007 when she joined Enda Kenny on stage after his Ard Fheis speech, partook in a pre-recorded conference interview and a joint appearance on a TV3 politics show.

In one of those interviews, Ms O'Kelly said her role was to make sure her husband didn't have to worry about home or their three children, Aoibhinn, Ferdia and Naoise.

The family live just outside Castlebar, Co Mayo.

Back in the 1980s, the languages graduate from Clontarf, Dublin, was headhunted by Charlie Haughey for the job of senior Fianna Fail press officer.

She went on to become government press secretary, a job she left in 1990 to become RTE public affairs chief, and married Enda Kenny in 1992.

Those senior positions have given her exclusive insight into political strategies, heaves and survivals and many within Fine Gael believe she is Mr Kenny's closest political adviser.

She is said to have been "vital" when it came to advising him on the heave against him last year by then finance spokesman Richard Bruton.

Ms O'Kelly's dad was secretary of the Department of Post and Telegraphs and played for Kerry. And her first cousin is Sean Kelly -- former GAA president and Fine Gael MEP.

Ms O'Kelly has previously said that she and Mr Kenny made a deliberate decision to keep their children out of the political maelstrom.

"It was the first thing we agreed," she said.

Asked if she found it difficult to leave her job in Fianna Fail, she said: "I didn't find it very difficult at all, so I didn't."

Irish Independent

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