Friday 15 December 2017

Kenny's key advisers on media strategy earn a combined €270,000

Enda Kenny is flanked by Feargal Purcell (left) and Mark Kennelly (right). Photo: Tom Burke
Enda Kenny is flanked by Feargal Purcell (left) and Mark Kennelly (right). Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

They are two of the Taoiseach's closest advisers and are paid more than €270,000 between them.

Enda Kenny's chief of staff Mark Kennelly and government press secretary Feargal Purcell are central to formulating the Taoiseach's media strategy.

While it is not publicly known who, or if anyone in Government Buildings, decided that Mr Kenny's resignation at Áras an Uachtaráin was to be a private event, a government spokesman said there was no precedent for making the resignation of a Taoiseach a public or media event.

Mr Kennelly was an adviser to former Fine Gael minister - now Independent TD - Michael Lowry in the mid-1990s.

The Killarney man also worked for Fine Gael leaders John Bruton and Michael Noonan, before gaining most prominence as a key adviser to Mr Kenny. Paid a salary of €156,380, Mr Kennelly was one of three senior Fine Gael figures who travelled to London last year to learn from the Tories' election victory. He made a number of appearances around the country to advise Mr Kenny while he was on the campaign trail - particularly in the build-up to the three leaders' debates.

Mr Kenny suffered a series of gaffes in the lead-up to polling day, including the confusion over whether he would do a post-election deal with Fianna Fáil, and his comments about "All-Ireland champion" whingers in Castlebar. In another slip-up - this time in the last TV debate - Mr Kenny appeared to confirm he was directly responsible for the controversial appointment of Seanad by-election candidate John McNulty to a State board.

He later insisted he didn't personally make the appointment. In response to the gaffes Mr Kenny said: "I'm human... I make mistakes but I'm man enough to acknowledge and accept responsibility for all these things."

Mr Purcell did not take part in the Fine Gael General Election campaign because of his role in Government. The Kilkenny man is on a salary of €115,431.

A former army press officer, Mr Purcell was later the head of the Fine Gael Press Office before taking up his current role in 2011.

He made a complaint to TV3 over the role of the station's political editor, Ursula Halligan, during a heated doorstep interview which ended with Mr Kenny almost falling into a flower pot.

Irish Independent

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