Saturday 22 July 2017

Independent Ministers hire former Green Party adviser

Independent Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Tom Burke
Independent Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

TWO Independent Ministers in Government have hired a former political adviser to the Green Party to be their most senior adviser.

Dónall Geoghegan, who was Programme Manager for the Green Party in government from 2007-2011, is to start work next month for Children’s Minister, Katherine Zappone, and Communications Minister, Denis Naughten.

Before working for the Green Party in government, Mr Geoghegan was that party’s general secretary from 2007-2011. He is currently communications and policy director for the organisation, Early Childhood Ireland, and previously had a number of jobs with various community and voluntary groups.

The appointment was made after public advertisement of the post and a selection process.  The move is part of an ongoing effort to improve communications and coordination within the Fine Gael-led minority coalition which has suffered some turbulence since taking office on May 6 last.

Ministers Naughten and Zappone have largely avoided public clashes with government colleagues since their appointment. But their counterparts in the Independent Alliance, which has a total of four ministers on the government team, has been the focus of four high-profile rows over water charges, abortion, appealing the Apple tax fine, and Waterford University Hospital.

Mr Geoghegan’s appointment is one of a number aimed at avoiding and defusing tensions within government. Former political correspondent for The Irish Daily Star, Catherine Halloran, has been appointed deputy government press secretary tasked with coordinating communications for all the Independents in government.

Last month the Independent Alliance announced the appointment of the libel lawyer, Tony Williams, as their political coordinator. Mr Williams is a former Progressive Democrat member and activist.

Both Mr Geoghegan and Mr Williams will act as go-between with Fine Gael and Taoiseach Enda Kenny's officials. They will focus on issues which are not part of the ministers’ direct responsibilities.

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