At least five former Fine Gael aides are working as public relations consultant for the tobacco industry in Ireland, the UK and Brussels.
The industry has increased its lobbying not only on the issue of cigarette smuggling, but also in response to the plans by the EU and national governments to tighten controls on tobacco products.
In Ireland, the Health Minister Dr James Reilly has promised to introduce plain packaging on cigarette boxes.
Over the past year, the advocacy group has achieved a meeting with a number of Government ministers and officials, including the Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, in spite of a World Health Organization convention that encourages interaction between governments and cigarette makers take place only in public..
Meeting with Taoiseach
Tv sport presenter and PR advisor to Bill O’Herlihy is the most prominent former party leader involved in lobbying Government Ministers, in his role as an adviser to the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers ‘ Advisory Committee (ITMAC).
Mr. O’Herlihy was present at the meeting, the Prime Minister of Ireland and the tobacco industry’s senior figures in government buildings in May last year. It was the first time that the Irish Prime Minister held official talks with the industry. Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter were also present at the meeting. Before last year’s budget, Mr. O’Herlihy wrote Ministers argue against an increase in cigarette prices.
Another former assistant Fine Gael who works in the industry Gilna Kevin , who was a senior adviser to John Bruton , when he was Prime Minister of Ireland , and later as EU ambassador to Washington. The company Mr. Gilna, in transatlantic relations with the community, provides services for Philip Morris International, the largest tobacco company in the world.
In the UK, the transatlantic worked on a campaign to defeat the plan of the last Labour government to impose a ban on the points of sale of tobacco products. The centerpiece of the campaign, the shopkeepers cooperation with organizations such as the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), to highlight the illegal tobacco trade.
Irish branch NFRN, which has 400 members, is currently active in highlighting the prevalence of tobacco smuggling in the country. He said he did not receive any funding from the cigarette companies.
Mr. Gilna said in an email that he was «unable ” to provide any details on the industry. Philip Morris is headquartered in Switzerland, has confirmed that he advises Transatlantic Ireland “on a number of issues.”
Manager of the affairs of state of the transatlantic, James Geoghegan, who also worked on Mr. Bruton in Washington, said queries Mr. Gilna.
Roy Dooney , who was a special adviser to Mr. Bruton for seven years, said that he worked as an external consultant for the transatlantic . He referred further questions to Mr. Gilna.
The former Fine Gael press officer Karl Brophy has confirmed that it has provided public affairs services for British American Tobacco (BAT). Mr. Brophy said his contacts were in Brussels, and he told the Irish subsidiary BAT, PJ Carroll.
Mr. Brophy , who was once a senior executive at the Independent News and Media , the former partner of Hume Brophy , who worked on the BAT in the UK on the campaign against cigarette displays in stores. Hume Brophy says it no longer worked for tobacco customers.
While the tobacco industry Taoiseach meeting was largely about the illegal trade of cigarettes bosses took the opportunity to reject proposals in the draft of the EU tobacco ban menthol - n- roll with the products. They also wanted the government reject the measures in the draft directive on the standardized and simple packaging.
At that time, O’Herlihy Communications said on its website it was formally advice the Government, the statement that was filmed after the firm was contacted about this by The Irish Times.
Anti-smoking group subsequently complained to the Taoiseach that the meeting was to violate EU rules on contacts with the tobacco industry.