Saturday 23 September 2017

Former Bruton aide fills the void left by latest adviser to leave Jobs Minister

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, right, with Orla Keane-Grant and baby Niamh at the opening of the Showcase Expo in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall
Mary Mitchell O’Connor, right, with Orla Keane-Grant and baby Niamh at the opening of the Showcase Expo in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A former special adviser to John Bruton is to take up a role with Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor - who has seen a number of her key staff resign in recent weeks.

Sources say Roy Dooney, who has close links to Fine Gael, will be formally unveiled as the minister's new policy adviser in the coming days.

Mr Dooney spent more than seven years advising Mr Bruton, both while he served as taoiseach and later as the EU's ambassador to Washington.

He has also served as commissioner of the League of Ireland and has more recently engaged in lobbying activity on behalf of the tobacco industry.

Mr Dooney, whose new role has yet to be signed off on by the Government, declined to comment when contacted by the Irish Independent last night.

He will replace Jim McGrath, who recently resigned from his post after just a few months. Mr McGrath previously served as adviser to former minister and Labour TD Alan Kelly, before taking up the role in the Department of Jobs.

Former TV3 broadcaster Alan Cantwell resigned as Ms Mitchell O'Connor's media adviser in November, just weeks after taking up the post.

As previously revealed by this newspaper, Mr Cantwell enjoyed a terse relationship with the Dún Laoghaire TD.

The tensions were further highlighted in recently released emails sent between the pair before Mr Cantwell's departure.

In one instance, Mr Cantwell was tasked with producing a short biography of Ms Mitchell O'Connor.

She replied by asking him to include "something about: 1. Jobs; 2. Enterprise; 3. Innovation".

The Jobs Minister has now appointed Ellen Lynch, formerly of the IDA, as her new press adviser following Mr Cantwell's resignation.

Ms Lynch previously worked in print and broadcast media.

Meanwhile, Ms Mitchell O'Connor came under fresh criticism from one of her own Fine Gael colleagues over the approach taken towards tackling ticket touts.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor released a report on the issue on Friday, during the middle of Donald Trump's inauguration speech.

The problem of ticket touting resurfaced recently after it emerged some U2 tickets for the act's concert in Croke Park in July were selling on the internet for almost €900 each.

The Government is now considering the introduction of strict new laws aimed at tackling ticket touts amid fears the growing controversy could jeopardise Ireland's bid to land major sporting events.

But Dublin North West TD Noel Rock, who is co-sponsoring his own bill with Independent deputy Stephen Donnelly, criticised the minister's approach.

"It would have been appreciated had we been consulted in advance, given Deputy Donnelly and I currently have a bill - working across parties and supported by many - dealing with this. It will be before the House in the coming days, and the issue will be raised in the Dáil tomorrow."

"What we don't need are more reports, we need action," Mr Rock said.

Irish Independent

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