Leading Ahern adviser dies


GERRY HICKEY, who has died, was a key adviser to former taoiseach Bertie Ahern throughout his period as leader of Fianna Fáil and as taoiseach.

As programme manager in the taoiseach’s office between 1997 and 2008, Mr Hickey played an important role in advising the government throughout that period.

A native of Mallow, Co Cork, Mr Hickey studied for the priesthood but left the Cistercian seminary before ordination. He then joined the Civil Service and had a successful career in the Department of Finance.

When Mr Ahern was appointed minister for finance in the Fianna Fáil-Labour coalition in 1992, he appointed Mr Hickey, then a senior official in the department, as his programme manager. It marked the beginning of a long relationship between the two men.

After the collapse of the Fianna Fáil-Labour government at the end of 1994, Mr Hickey left the Civil Service to work with Irish Ferries. A year after he became leader of Fianna Fáil, Mr Ahern invited Mr Hickey to become his main adviser. He became programme manager to the taoiseach when Fianna Fáil returned to power in coalition with the Progressive Democrats in 1997.

He had a passion for hillwalking and regularly brought colleagues and friends on treks in the Wicklow mountains. He is survived by his wife Margaret, his three children Susan, Ciara and Barry and his granddaughter Mia.