General election: Backroom staff driving the party machines

Who’s who within the inner circles of the party leaders

 

Fine Gael

Mark Kennelly: Kenny’s chief of staff in Government. He is the Taoiseach’s voice in many meetings, largely spending the campaign on the road with Kenny.

Mark Mortell: A senior executive with Fleishman Hillard, the communications company, Mortell is seen as the arch-strategist within the party.

Andrew McDowell: Kenny’s chief economic adviser, McDowell is the primary author of the party’s Long Term Economic Plan and the election manifesto.

Tom Curran: The party general secretary oversees the organisation and is helped by Terry Murphy, also from party headquarters.

Brian Hayes: The Dublin MEP was once one of those Kenny blamed most for the 2010 heave against his leadership. Now firmly in the inner circle as director of elections.

Ciaran Conlon: An adviser to Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton and Kenny’s spokesman during years in Opposition. Conlon helped devise the structure and themes of the campaign.

Majella Fitzpatrick: A former director of communications with Ibec, Fitzpatrick came back to Fine Gael to oversee the party’s communications strategy.

Fianna Fáil

Deirdre Gillane: She was an adviser to Michéal Martin when he was in cabinet before going to work for Brian Cowen when he was Taoiseach. Gillane has been Martin’s chief of staff for the past five years and provides spine to the Fianna Fáil leader’s operation.

Sean Dorgan: With resources more than halved since the party’s 2011 wipeout, the general secretary has had to rebuild the organisation while trying to bring through fresh blood and prepare it for the general election.

Pat McParland: Director of communications and deputy general secretary. McParland completes the group of three full-time staff around Martin, along with Gillane and Dorgan, who are at the apex of the party.

Peter MacDonagh: Known as the “Child of Prague” because he is based in the Czech city, McDonagh also offers advice, as does former general secretary and lobbyist Martin Mackin.

Billy Kelleher: TD for Cork North-Central and Michéal Martin’s director of elections. Kelleher has been criticised for effectively acknowledging the party is unlikely to be in government after the election but his statement was probably made with one eye to the grassroots, who would down tools at the suggestion of an alliance with Fine Gael.

Sinn Féin

Ken O’Connell: The Dubliner is in charge of party organisation, and regional organisers – broken down by European parliament constituency – feed back into him. He also contributes to political strategy.

Seán MacBrádaigh: Gerry Adams’s personal spokesman and operates as something of a liaison officer for the leader. Adams almost has a separate operation within the party apparatus and MacBrádaigh is a key figure within it.

Ciarán Quinn: Runs the rest of the party’s communications operations and has experience working for Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, as well as elsewhere in Stormont.

Dawn Doyle: The party’s general secretary is described by insiders as the rock at centre of the Sinn Féin campaign, around whom all others orbit. She is the chief strategist for the party.

Matt Carthy: The Midlands-North West MEP is Sinn Féin director of elections, but is understood not to be directly involved in day-to-day organisation. Carthy’s role is effectively to be a public face for the party during the campaign.

Labour

Edward Brophy: Has been with Joan Burton since she was minister for social protection at the outset of this Government and took the role of chief of staff when Burton became Tánaiste. As such, he is effectively directing the Labour campaign.

Brendan Howlin: While not involved in headquarters on a daily basis, he is a key figure. In the words of one source, Howlin “deserves the order of Lenin” for maintaining peace between Burton and deputy leader Alan Kelly.

Alan Kelly: Is director of elections but has strained relations with the Burton camp, to put it mildly. There were recent mutterings about “sidelining” him during the campaign but the Tipperary TD is unlikely to allow that happen.

Ronan Farren: Farren is the Labour political director and has been responsible for some of the party’s more eye-catching initiatives, such as its Sinn Féin-Fianna Fáil “gay marriage” advert.

Paul O’Brien: Was Burton’s spokesman in Government and has taken leave of absence to work the communications side of the Labour campaign.

The McDowells: Brian McDowell is the party general secretary, effectively in charge of organisation, and brother and former Dublin North-Central TD Derek is described as an adviser to the Tánaiste. Derek McDowell’s role involves crafting Labour policy and positions.

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