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President's aide resigns amid reports of tensions

The chief adviser to President Michael D Higgins has resigned after just 18 months amid reports of tensions among his most trusted aides.

Mary van Lieshout caused shock with her sudden announcement with the growing influence of Mr Higgins' executive assistant Kevin McCarthy, a more junior staff member who it has been suggested has better access to the President, being reported to be central to tensions in the Aras.

Mr McCarthy worked as Mr Higgins' driver during the presidential election campaign.

The 33-year-old was appointed to the specially created position of executive assistant when Mr Higgins took office in November 2011.

Aras an Uachtarian is now playing down the shock resignation of Ms van Lieshout just 18 months into the job.

President Higgins got the wage cap lifted last year in order to pay the highly regarded aide a salary of €103,000.

It is believed Ms van Lieshout was not happy with the level of access she had to the President on a day-to-day basis in the Aras.



The American-born adviser has known Michael D Higgins since the 1980s and was personally approached by the President to become his chief aide, but she had never actually worked with him before.

She took up the position in February 2012, with the Aras breaching the salary cap of €80,000.

"Mary was very unhappy with the situation. It's very hard to bring someone into an adviser's position you haven't worked with, and you don't know well," said an informed source.

"If you start from a place where Mary did, not knowing him very well, building it from zero, it's difficult. You have to have the working relationship built up beforehand," they added.