DUBLIN: The Irish government is set to introduce legislation to
prevent high-ranking civil servants from moving directly into PR and
The move follows controversy in the Irish media concerning Paddy Duffy,
who resigned as political adviser to prime minister Bertie Ahern on 9
Duffy was a non-executive director of Dublin-based PR company Dillon
Consultants while working for Ahern. He resigned from the prime
minister’s office following reports of his role at Dillon. The agency’s
web site went as far as listing him as one of its major assets.
The government is currently examining whether legislation may be needed
to cover possible conflicts of interest where public servants dealing
with sensitive privatisation issues leave to join outside companies.
Ahern said last week that it might be necessary to create a time gap
between leaving the public service and taking up private sector
employment to prevent special knowledge being used for commercial
This move would resemble the ’cooling off’ period imposed on UK civil
servants when they leave to join PR and lobbying firms.
Dillon Consultants recently advised US telecommunications company NTL on
the purchase from two Irish state companies of Cablelink, the country’s
largest cable TV firm. It had also organised, through Duffy, a meeting
between NTL and Ahern.
In parliament, Ahern refused to accept that his adviser had been guilty
of misconduct, but described his relationship with Dillon Consultants as
’inappropriate’ and a breach of the Ethics in Public Office Act.
He insisted that Duffy had played no role in advising NTL on the
Cablelink bid and said he had already paid a high price for a ’bad
Duffy had intended to join Dillon Consultants when he quit the public
service at the end of the year, and claimed in a statement that he had
been listed as a director due to ’a misunderstanding’.