Business Irish

Saturday 21 September 2019

Gerard Howlin

Roisin Burke

THE former spin doctor worked closely with Bertie Ahern for a decade and is now a self-employed lobbyist.

A Fianna Fail cumann member while at Trinity, Howlin left the party with Mary Harney and was a founding member of the PDs in 1985. He returned to FF's fold in the Nineties when Bertie Ahern was recruiting a crack team to rival Labour's spin supremo model and support the frontbench.

By 1999 he was one of a coterie of half a dozen special advisers around the then Taoiseach Mr Ahern. Responsibilities included preparing Bertie's briefings for Dail questions and speechwriting. He was Fianna Fail press secretary briefly for several months in 2007.

As it did for others in the inner circle, his earnings would rocket over the years. Howlin was making over €55,000 in 2000; less than five years later that would exceed €120,000.

He left the Taoiseach's office in autumn 2007 to pursue other interests.

He joined ex-PD handler Stephen O'Byrnes' MKC the following year as a lobbyist and PR adviser. During 2011 he was spokesman for the pharmacists' union but left last November. He runs his own public affairs and lobbying consultancy. While he supports plans for a public register of lobbyists he declines to name his clients, save to say they include multinationals and professional bodies. He has no political involvement.

He wrote recently of his former employer that it "...faces a decade of hard work reclaiming credibility... In truth, Fianna Fail may already be in terminal decline".

Of Bertie, he tells us he is "friendly with him, but I rarely see him socially".

And how would he have advised Ahern to proceed post-tribunal? "There was an inevitability about the findings that hardly needed advice."

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business