Spin doctoring is not a traditional vocation for members of the
clergy, but this was no deterrent for Reverend Martin Clarke, who has
just taken on one of the most challenging PR roles in Ireland.
He has been named communications officer and principal spokesperson for
the Irish Bishops’ Conference, the ’government’ of the Irish church,
whose president is Reverend Sean Brady.
Clarke’s nomination was a radical move - he is the first non-bishop to
hold the post. His appointment follows a review of the Irish church’s
whole PR strategy.
The rethink may have been prompted by the crisis now facing the Irish
church. It has been hit by sexual abuse scandal involving priests and
there has been a drop in the number of men seeking ordination.
The office of spokesman was established in 1975 and there has not been
much fresh blood injected into the role since then. The most recent
spokesman, Bishop Thomas Flynn - who has now returned full time to his
diocese - was only the fourth to hold the post.
Clarke was not available for comment, as one of his first tasks had
taken him to Rome. ’He’s making contact with HQ,’ a spokesman said.