INTERNATIONAL: Irish Examiner editor quits for Fine Gael job

DUBLIN: The editor of one of Ireland's leading newspapers has quit

to take a newly-created role as director of communications and policy

for its main right-wing political party.



Brian Looney is to leave the Irish Examiner next month to take up the

Dublin-based role for Fine Gael, the second-largest group in the Irish

parliament and the leading party in opposition to the coalition of

Fianna Fail and the smaller Progressive Democrats (PDs).



His role has been created outside the existing PR structure at Fine

Gael.



While Looney will become a special adviser to party leader Michael

Noonan, the four-strong news team under national press and PR officer

Niall O' Muilleoir will continue to report to the party's

general-secretary, Tom Curran.



Looney has had an eventful six-year spell at the newspaper. Formerly the

Cork Examiner, the regional Munster-based title entered the national

media arena with its rebranding as the Irish Examiner. Looney previously

edited The Kerryman, one of the Republic's biggest-selling regional

weeklies.



Fianna Fail and the PDs only manage to govern with the consent of

independents. Fine Gael hold 54 of the 166 seats in Dublin's parliament

and - if recent political history is any guide - stand to inherit the

coalition leadership and the right to govern - at the next general

election.



Key issues facing all parties in the Republic include its over-heating

economy, with inflation above the European Union average at 5.6 per

cent.



'We have a major skills and labour shortage which is driving wages and

prices up,' said a Fine Gael spokeswoman. 'Brian will help form policy

to tackle that,' she said.



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