Bertie Ahern: Mara shaped politics with his intellect and sharp wit
IT's a hard thing to lose both a close friend and a faithful colleague at the same time. The last time I spoke to PJ we were sitting in the Skylon hotel, where we so often met. We were both Drumcondra boys, although he had a few years on me.
PJ was not just a big presence on the political landscape, he actually played a part in shaping it from way back in the 1970s. Always charming and always warm - but there was a touch of steel and a fierce intelligence working behind the easy, casual manner.
PJ had time for everyone from the ushers in the Dáil to the highest officers of State. The only thing about him was he didn't suffer fools, or chancers, lightly. If he felt you were swinging the lead, the famous silken tongue could turn into a whip, doling out a lashing to remember.