Thursday 18 January 2018

Tim Ryan: A loyal right-hand man who defended his 'Boss' to the hilt

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Mara in the 2015 TV drama ‘Charlie'
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Mara in the 2015 TV drama ‘Charlie'

Tim Ryan

In 1963, PJ Mara first came into contact with one of Ireland's most controversial and colourful politicians, Charles J Haughey, when he joined the O'Donovan Rossa cumann in Dublin.

Attracted by the twin prospects of gaining and using power, as well as using his own political skills, Mara eventually professed a unique loyalty to his Boss in a way that had never been seen before in Irish public life. For a start, Mara brought a new dimension to the party's press office and as Government Press Secretary. He was viewed largely as Haughey's personal spokesman, rather than that of the Government.

Mara became a close aide of Haughey after he had been sacked by Jack Lynch in 1970. In a clearly devised strategy to regain support, there began what infamously became known as the 'chicken and chips' circuit, where the duo visited the four corners of the country on a regular basis, attending and addressing Fianna Fáil meetings of all kinds. The programme was gruelling but it paid off in 1975 when Haughey was appointed as health spokesman by Lynch.

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