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A broke PJ Mara needed U2's manager to co-sign a car loan after he left government

A new documentary looks at the legacy of the late advisor.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

WELL KNOWN SPIN-doctor PJ Mara had to get someone to co-sign on a loan for a used car as he left government – as he didn’t have the money to afford it himself.

That’s according to former U2 manager Paul McGuinness, who said that he co-signed with Mara on a “fairly inexpensive” second-hand car as he was leaving government.

Mara was press secretary for Fianna Fáil between 1983 and 1987. He was appointed as government press secretary in 1987 and served until 1992.

Mara (who died in January of this year) was very close with then-Taoiseach Charles Haughey – and was known as his right-hand man.

The revelations about his financial situation are made in a new documentary – PJ Mara: A Legacy – that will air on RTÉ One tomorrow night.


McGuinness told the documentary that he had to co-sign on the loan for the car as the former press secretary didn’t have the cash himself.

“During those years, I know he had no money,” McGuinness told the programme.

“He had a government press secretary’s salary.

When PJ was leaving government, I had to co-sign a car loan for a fairly inexpensive second-hand car. So he didn’t have the cash or, indeed, the credit to buy a second hand car.

McGuinness also said that he was always “puzzled” by the relationship between Mara and Haughey – stating that the former Taoiseach treated his advisor with “disdain”.

“I was puzzled by the relationship between them because I thought they were buddies,” he said.

But in a formal situation Haughey was really quite disdainful of PJ and treated him, I thought, with disdain and I didn’t like that.


Following his years as press secretary, Mara went on the serve as the director of elections for Fianna Fáil for 1997, 2002, and 2007 – steering them to victory in all occasions.

Maaaara Source: Eamonn Farrell

Despite being known as Haughey’s right-hand man throughout the 80s, one person interviewed in the documentary said that he wasn’t even the Fianna Fáil’s leader first choice for press secretary.

“He called me up and asked me to be his press secretary,” said former broadcaster Seán Duignan.

You may not believe this but Charlie, when I turned it down said, ‘who will I get’ and I said ‘PJ, of course’.

Mara was a witness at both tribunals set up after it was revealed in 1996 that supermarket magnate Ben Dunne had given Haughey £1 million.

While he himself faced allegations that he had had looked for money in return for broadcast licences, no substantive findings were made against him.

PJ Mara: A Legacy airs on Monday, May 16th at 9.35pm on RTÉ One

Read: Uno duce, una voce: The story behind THAT infamous PJ Mara remark

Read: ‘One Veronica Guerin, her murder, her sacrifice, should be enough’

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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