Former government press officer Bart Cronin dies in Dublin
Close ally of FF minister George Colley in his early public service years
Former head of the Government Information Service Bart Cronin (left) with with P. J. Mara in Feburary 1992. Photograph: Peter Thursfield /The Irish Times
His dry sense of humour, the deep knowledge of politics, the near-constant cigarette, and the well of anecdotes, were the hallmarks of a press officer who diligently served ministers of varying political colour.
A native of Tureencahill, Rathmore, Co Kerry, he began his career in Aer Lingus and worked for some years in the airline’s press office. He later joined his friend, Fianna Fáil minister George Colley, as departmental spokesman when Colley occupied a number of different ministries.
As Colley and Charlie Haughey prepared for the inevitable party leadership battle, with Haughey eventually winning, Mr Cronin was a formidable ally.
When Fianna Fáil was out of power, he worked for ministers such as Fine Gael’s John Bruton and Labour’s Michael O’Leary.
Retired RTÉ journalist Sean Duignan, who worked with him as government press secretary when Reynolds was taoiseach, wrote of Mr Cronin in his memoir One Spin on the Merry-Go-Round, that behind “an artless homespun exterior lurked the most compassionate of men’’. Duignan recalled he came to trust and rely on him more than anyone else.
A fluent Irish speaker, Mr Cronin remained hugely interested throughout his life in the culture of his native Sliabh Luachra, launching its local journal some years ago.
Mr Cronin, who lived in Santry, Dublin, is survived by his wife, Maire, three daughters, two sons and grandchildren.