PJ Mara was the most famous political spin doctor in modern Irish history, having played a leading role in Fianna Fáil for more than 30 years.
He was the confidant come press secretary during the 1980s for taoiseach Charles J Haughey . He would later become the “ruthless”, if highly successful, director of elections for Bertie Ahern, helping to secure a hat-trick of victories in 1997, 2002, and 2007.
In June 2013, he became a father again at the age of 71, when his partner Sheila gave birth to a baby girl. He is survived by his son John, daughter Elena, and partner Sheila. He is predeceased by his wife Breda, beside whom he will be buried in Kinvara, Co Galway, tomorrow.
PJ MARA'S LAST INTERVIEW: Banking inquiry would absolve Fianna Fáil of blame
Compiled by Conall Ó Fátharta
He was great fun, a very, very, very erudite man. He had that gift of winning people over and impressing them and he used it to great effect... He was a person of great humanity and intelligence who actually made a massive contribution to politics in this country... There was a kindness and an intelligence to him and that’s why he was non-partisan in so many ways.
PJ Mara was an amazing friend, colleague, and intellect who made an indelible impression on everybody he worked with. He joined the Digicel Board in 2003 and made a vast contribution to our strategic direction and growth. He was an astute adviser and a tremendous and insightful ambassador.
He was extraordinarily intelligent. He worked from instinct. Anybody around party politics who knew him knew how formidable he was when he put his mind to it to get things done. His record speaks for itself. Bertie Ahern’s three in a row, not many could have done that. And I knew he was extraordinarily proud of that... he really did believe in the State, he loved this country passionately.”
While PJ was best known for his work in the political and communications sphere, it was his deep personal commitment to the cause of children’s rights that drew him to support Unicefs work for children throughout the world. PJ was a valued director of Unicef Ireland and he brought his vast experience to bear in support of the board of directors.
As a member of the board of the 2003 Special Olympics World Games PJ Mara used his considerable experience and insight of media relations to advise on how the media could assist in stirring the imagination and generating the enthusiasm among cities, towns and communities across the island to embrace the thousands of athletes from around the world and their families during their stay in Ireland.
PJ MARA'S LAST INTERVIEW: ‘Lobbying is a way of life’
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved