Former advisor to Charlie Haughey passed away in hospital after a long illness
Former Fianna Fáil political strategist and Government Press Secretary PJ Mara has died in Dublin at the age of 73.
The former political advisor to Charlie Haughey passed away at The Beacon Hospital in the early hours of this morning, following a long illness.
An influential political figure in several governments, he served as Government Press Secretary from 1987 to 1992 and returned to serve as Fianna Fáil's Director of Elections in 1997, continuing in this role for three general election campaigns.
He is survived by his partner and two children.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he learned of Mr Mara's death "with great sadness". Martin spoke of how he first met Mara as a student:
"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. He brought immense humour, judgement and commitment to the role," said Martin.
"As Government Press Secretary for five years he brought a new energy and professionalism to the role which was recognised throughout Europe during the 1990 Presidency of the European Council.
"PJ was a true original who it was an honour and a pleasure to know and to work with", he added.
He also extended condolences to Mr Mara's family on behalf of the party.
Former Fine Gael TD and Senator Maurice Manning, now Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about his friend.
And Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea said Mr Mara bridged the gap in the party, created by Charlie Haughey.
European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly knew him well during her years as a political correspondent.
She said PJ only became well known by the public when comedian Dermot Morgan portrayed him and Charlie Haughey in his sketch show Scrap Saturday: Newstalk Political Editor Shane Coleman paid tribute to the 'erudite' Mara, saying that he was completely different to the current breed of press officers:
A delighted FF Director of Elections PJ Mara speaks to the media at the RTE Prime Time studio, after the General Election 2007 TV Debate.
Former Government Press Secretary PJ Mara at the removal mass of former Taoiseach Charles (Charlie) Haughey, at the Church of Our Lady of Consolation, Donnycarney, Dublin.
L TO R. Fianna Fail Party Leader Charles Haughey with PJ Mara smoking at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis. 8/3/1991
L TO R. PJ Mara with John Stafford arriving at the funeral of his wife Breda at Clarendon Street Church Dublin. 29/5/2003.
Former Fianna Fail Government Press Secretary PJ Mara at the launch of Kevins Rafter book on Mr Mansergh which was launch on the same day that the publication of the Flood Tribunal report . Mr Justice Flood said in his report that PJ Mara was unhelpful.
Director of Elections PJ Mara prior to the launch of the Fianna Fail election manifesto in Dublin. 25/4/2002.
Bernard Ingham former Press Secretary to the British Prime with PJ Mara(R) at the Humbert Summer School in Ballina Co Mayo. 20/8/1994
Taoiseach Charles Haughey with Government Press Secretary PJ Mara during Election 1989.
MR. PJ MARA, THE DIRECTOR OF THE FIANNA FAIL CAMPAIGN FOR THE PEACE AGREEMENT, IS IN A HAPPY MOOD AT THE HUGHE VOTE IN FAVOUR, AT THE NATIONAL COUNT CENTRE IN DUBLIN CASTLE. 23/5/1998
FORMER GOVERNMENT PRESS SECRETARY PJ MARA(L) WITH TED SMITH OF THE HEINZ GROUP AT THE AMERICAN IRELAND FUND DINNER for Saint Patricks Day IN THE NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM IN WASHINGTON. 16/3/1998
GOVERNMENT PRESS SECRETARY PJ MARA AT A EU SUMMIT IN DUBLIN. 1990 Photo: RollingNews.ie