The essence of politics is…timing
Former British Labour MP Chris Mullin, probably best known here as the tenacious campaigner who exposed the miscarriage of justice inflicted on the Birmingham Six, delivered a humorous talk in Dublin earlier this week. He said while most politicians fight one election too many, he got out of politics early – “when people were still asking ‘why?’ rather than ‘when’?”
While signing copies of his published diaries afterwards, Mullin was approached by a gentleman associated with the (Irish) Labour Party who asked him to inscribe a book for the party’s new press director. “Certainly,” said Mullin, “what’s the name?” “Er, we don’t know yet,” was the response.
Tony Heffernan, Labour’s long-serving press director, will take early retirement next week despite being a cert to be named as the party’s spokesperson in Government. He will be a great loss to the party, and indeed to reporters, because of his deep knowledge of party policy and structures, as well as his impressive memory. One of his co-workers described him as a “walking wikipedia” recently.
And you have to take your hat off to anyone in politics with the wisdom to end a long and distinguished career – no doubt punctuated by many moments of disappointment over the years – on a high.
(Gossip around Leinster House says the position could be offered to public relations consultants Ronan Farren or Mark Brennock. Mr Farren, a former Labour press officer and son of the SDLP’s Sean Farren, works for Q4 public relations. Mr Brennock, a former Irish Times political correspondent, is director of public affairs with Murray Consultants.)