All Talk and No Action. Why Is Spin Doctor Ciaran Conlon on [Euro]127k When He's Not Even Creating Jobs?

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY CARR

CIARAN Conlon was a prominent figure during the 2007 general election when Fine Gael won 20 new Dail seats, and for the first time in a decade, the foot soldiers were swept along on the tantalising prospect of power. At the launch of the election manifesto, he shared the podium with Enda Kenny and other party heavyweights, sitting to the right of the future taoiseach and frequently whispering in his ear.

At the press conference that followed he seemed to call the shots, and it was to him that the Fine Gael leader deferred.

He had the campaign schedule at the tip of his fingers and knew when the party spokesmen were due to pitch up to discuss their particular portfolios. In contrast to the now Taoiseach who could often seem timorous and uncertain, he appeared utterly in control and on top of his game. His qualities of organisational flair and media management were obvious to everyone. Yet they were not mentioned in the email from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation which laid out his dazzling qualities in an attempt to justify a massive 37 per cent pay increase to [euro]127,000 a year for the onetime Fine Gael employee.

MR CONLON possesses an unmatched level of connectedness with the people and issues critical to the delivery of the programme on jobs,' went the pompous missive. It added that he had joined the party in 2003 and reported to the party leader Mr Kenny during two elections.

As a masterpiece of spin, the email must be as brazen and ingenious as anything conjured up by Mr Conlon during his impressive career as a PR man. The suggestion that he is instrumental to the success of Richard Bruton's job creation mandate is about as absurd as the contention that he enjoys a 'connectedness to people'.

A popular broadcaster like Joe Duffy might boast a 'connectedness to the people', but until the Irish Mail on Sunday last weekend reported how his pay deal breached the salary cap for special advisers, no-one outside the political elite knew of Ciaran Conlon. If they know him now, then it's purely as a figure who embodies the sense of entitlement and greed that defines those who inhabit the corridors of power.

As for his contribution to job creation, let's just say that even Mr Conlon's most loyal admirers wouldn't say he's an international heavy-hitter with a global profile in innovation and enterprise.

No, Mr Conlon's work for Richard Bruton will not involve him journeying to far eastern economies and drumming up foreign investment. It will not see him investigating the need for new research and development facilities off the M50, or burning the midnight oil with captains of industry about the employment potential of petrochemicals. …