Politics.ie has learned that Fine Gael have head-hunted Mark Mortell to advise the party in the run up to the General Election. Mortell will be continuing with his role as Director of Fleishman Hillard - where he presently "leads the corporate, public affairs and consulting aspects of the business." Effectively this means that Fine Gael will be retaining the international agency in order to access Mortell's consultancy services.
The appointment of Mortell to advise the party follows the resignation of Fine Gael's Political Director Michael McLoughlin who has left the party to return to his business, Amarach Consulting. A spokesman for Fine Gael confirmed to Politics.ie that McLoughlin left his posting following the party's think-in in Waterford three weeks ago.
Politics.ie broke the news that McLoughlin had left his post as Chief Executive of Amarach Consulting in early September of 2008 to join the party following the resignation of Gerry Naughton as the party's political director. A FG spokesman has told Politics.ie that McLoughlin had decided to leave his role with party HQ to focus on Amarach and that there was no other reason behind his decision and there was no "animus" involved in his departure.
Mortell has been a Fine Gaeler for over thirty years, most recently credited with being one of the architects of the party's 2007 General Election campaign which saw the party gain 20 seats in the Dáil. He was appointed as non-executive Chairman of Bord Failte by Enda Kenny when he was Minister for Tourism and Trade. Following his role in Bord Failte Mortell was appointed Commercial Director of Aer Lingus.
Of the FG parliamentary party members who may be especially interested in Mortell's appointment is Dublin South East TD Lucinda Creighton. In 2008 it was reported that Mortell was Sean Dunne's PR advisor over his application to build the 37-storey Ballsbridge Tower on the Jury's site in Ballsbridge that Deputy Creighton is well known to have strongly opposed. Mortell has told Politics.ie that Fleishman were retained by Dunne's Mountbrook Group but that relationship finished some time ago. Similarly Deputy Creighton has welcomed his appointment this afternoon, telling Politics.ie that she's known Mortell for many years that's he's been around the party and considers him a friend.
Mortel is currently the presenter of the radio show Down to Business on Newstalk which he has done for the past three years. Mortell told Politics.ie this afternoon that he planned on finishing up as presenter of that two-hourly Saturday radio show in the coming weeks as a result of his new role with Fine Gael.
Mortel has told Politics.ie that his role is with Fine Gael is effective from today.