Monday 23 October 2017

O'Herlihy ran hugely successful PR firm which acted for tobacco industry

Bill O’Herlihy in 1974
Bill O’Herlihy in 1974
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Bill O'Herlihy may have been best known for his enduring TV presence during major football matches - but he also ran his own public relations firm and controversially acted as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.

O'Herlihy Communications has been in business since 1973 as a PR and lobbying firm.

Among its clients was the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers' Advisory Committee (ITMAC).

The firm was headed up by Mr O'Herlihy and his daughter Jill. The broadcaster and businessman had come in for criticism for his willingness to lobby on behalf of the tobacco industry.

However, he remained unapologetic on this issue, and insisted that he was not advocating that people should start smoking.

"Absolutely not," he stressed.

He said previously his company's role on behalf of ITMAC was in dealing with the specific issue of cigarette smuggling.

"What I'm doing is highlighting the damaging effect of illegal tobacco smuggling for the Irish economy.

Complaints

"As a sports presenter, I have had no complaints about my association with tobacco. Everyone should be part of the campaign to be rid of smuggled cigarettes for the good of the country. "Our campaign on behalf of ITMAC is - and has been - focussed on the importation of illicit cigarettes."

Speaking two years ago, O'Herlihy said it was important that members of the Oireachtas and members of the Cabinet were aware of the massive scale of cigarette smuggling.

"Criminals are earning in the region of €350m per year. The Exchequer is losing €1.2m per day, according to the Revenue Commissioners, and even more according to the Eurobarometer statistics.

"Given the current state of the national finances that, to state the obvious, is a huge loss and it is important that our decision-makers are fully aware of it."

He said illicit cigarettes and tobacco were openly for sale on street corners, markets, and door-to-door across Ireland.

"Curbing cigarette smuggling is a national imperative, and a coordinated government campaign, that is practical and effective is essential.

"That is the approach we are advocating, as well as creating an awareness of the scale of the problem."

Irish Independent

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