INTERNATIONAL: Fine Gael axes comms role as Looney quits

DUBLIN: Ireland's main right-wing political party Fine Gael has

scrapped its director of communications and policy post following the

sudden departure of Brian Looney.



The former Irish Examiner editor quit as the party's main PR strategist

and special adviser to Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan after just six

weeks.



And Fine Gael this week confirmed it will not be replacing Looney or

filling a similar PR role, which was created as the first of its type

within the party.



A Fine Gael spokeswoman said: 'Looney was employed as a consultant so

there is not a vacancy as such. The party is not going to look for any

consultancy along the same lines.'



The news comes two months after Fine Gael announced it was considering

ditching its £100,000 contract with political PR firm Carr

Communications as part of a cost-cutting drive.



Looney left amid industry rumours that conflict arose between himself

and Noonan.



Close sources suggest Fine Gael ignored some of Looney's publicity

suggestions.



Looney was not available for comment as PRWeek went to press and it is

not known whether he will return to a role in the PR industry. It is

understood he may return to his roots in journalism.



Looney joined 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 - last month after six

years at the Irish Examiner (PRWeek, 13 July).



He was taken on to fill the role, created outside the party's existing

in-house PR team.



All Fine Gael PR will now be handled by the four-strong PR team, under

national press and PR officer Niall O'Muilleoir.



O'Muilleoir's team continue to report to the party's general-secretary

Tom Curran.



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