PJ Mara dies at 73

PJ Mara dies at 73
Former Government Press Secretary PJ Mara has died.3/5/2007. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

PJ Mara, a former press secretary to the Irish government, has died aged 73 following a long illness

He served briefly in the Seanad on two separate occasions, in 1981 and 1982. On both occasions, he was nominated by the Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

Mr. Mara served as Press Secretary to Fianna Fáil between 1983 and 1987. In 1987 he was appointed Government Press Secretary, and he held this position until February 1992, when he left the public service to move into the private sector.

He was a member of the board of Digicel, the company founded by Denis O’Brien to build mobile networks in the Caribbean.

Here he discusses his thoughts on Digicel:

He was a lively character in Irish politics who became a household name, largely through satirical impressions of him on the RTÉ show, Scrap Saturday by Dermot Morgan.

Morgan regularly mocked his working relationship with Mr Haughey, and those sketches became central to the show.

He was known for saying that if Watergate happened in Ireland Nixon would still be President and everyone would know Deep Throat’s identity.

Mr Mara was embroiled in controversy in 2002 when the Flood Tribunal – a long-running public inquiry into allegations of corruption in the planning system – found that he had not disclosed an offshore bank account to the inquiry.

During the ‘Century Radio module’ of the tribunal Mara said that during the course of his employment as a Press Secretary, his financial remuneration was not sufficient to meet his immediate financial requirements, and he experienced financial difficulties.

However, at a later date in the tribunal, Judge Feargus Flood found that Mara failed to co-operate with the Tribunal by: “Failing to provide the Tribunal with details of an account in the name of Pullman Limited, operated by him at Royal Bank of Scotland in the Isle of Man, when swearing his Affidavit of Discovery made pursuant to an Order of the Tribunal requiring him to discover, inter alia, any such account.”

As his death was announced on Friday, the current Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin paid a warm tribute to Mr Mara, describing him as a “true original who it was an honour and a pleasure to know and to work with”.

“In a series of general elections as well as the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, PJ proved himself to be the most effective campaign director in Irish political history,” Mr Martin said.

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