Former MEP and TD Gay Mitchell joins Unique Media’s newly expanded Political and Public Affairs division
Gillian Kavanagh, former Fine Gael Media and Campaigns Manager, also joins the team
Division offers expert advice on navigating political systems in Ireland and across Europe as well as bespoke guidance on preparing for a post-Brexit EU
Unique Media, one of Ireland’s leading media consultancy firms, has announced the expansion of its Political and Public Affairs division with the appointment of Gay Mitchell, former MEP, TD and Minister for European Affairs, as European Political and Public Affairs Adviser.
Unique Media’s Political and Public Affairs division offers objective advice and guidance on how to approach the often challenging political and public affairs systems that exist in Ireland and across Europe.
With the addition of Gay Mitchell to the team, the company will now focus strongly on advising local and international companies, public bodies, associations, NGO’s and representative organisations on how the institutions of the EU work, what the EU might look like after Brexit and, in particular, offer bespoke guidance on how to prepare for a post-Brexit EU. The expanded division will complement the range of services already offered by Unique Media, including Public Relations, Media / Presentation Training and Issue Management.
Gay Mitchell was first elected to public office at the age of 27 and contested 15 local, national and European elections. During his 26 years in the Dáil, he served as Minister for European Affairs and as a leading frontbench spokesperson for Fine Gael for a variety of portfolios including Foreign Affairs, Health, Justice, Public Service and Constitutional Reform, Tourism and Transport and Urban Renewal.
Most recently he spent ten years as a Member of the European Parliament where he acted as Rapporteur for a number of issues for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, including reports on the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He worked closely with these institutions in drafting the reports.
A member of the European Parliament’s Special Committee on the global financial crisis, Gay Mitchell also served as Rapporteur for The Development Cooperation Instrument (the basic EU law on overseas development), The Emergency Food Facility (for developing countries), Donor Coordination of Development Aid, and the report on Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction in Developing Countries. An experienced networker, public speaker, negotiator and policy maker, Gay was previously Lord Mayor of Dublin (1992-1993) and was Fine Gael’s presidential candidate in 2011. (Full CV is listed below)
Gay Mitchell says:“Brexit presents an unprecedented challenge for the EU and the UK. We in Ireland will have our own challenges arising from this but we are well capable of meeting these. In fact, if we prepare well, this could present the greatest opportunity for Ireland since Independence. I hope my work with Unique Media will contribute to this preparation.”
Gillian Kavanagh, most recently Media and Campaigns Manager with Fine Gael, is joining Unique Media as Political and Public Affairs Manager. A former print journalist, Gillian has over 13 years’ experience in politics, bringing a sound working knowledge of the operational systems within national and local Government in Ireland.
Gillian had responsibility for internal communication within Fine Gael, developing strategic party messaging, facilitating policy exchanges between stakeholders and national and local public representatives, as well as engaging senior politicians, including Ministers, in Party Headquarters’ projects. She also developed and led a Gender Project within Fine Gael, which has produced significant positive outcomes for the party, most notably delivering a record number of female TDs in Dáil Éireann.
Holding key communications functions during three General Elections, three Local Elections, three European Elections and several referenda, Gillian has a wealth of expertise in political campaigning and was instrumental in mentoring and training election candidates. She also acted as Director of Communications for three by-elections. (Full CV is listed below)
Al Dunne, Managing Director of Unique Media, says he is delighted to welcome Gay and Gillian to the team:
“In the wake of the recent Brexit referendum result in the UK, we have experienced a surge in requests for Political and Public Affairs services. Clients are seeking expert advice on what the EU might look like after Brexit and, specifically, they want to know how they can best prepare for a post-Brexit EU. Gay brings an absolute wealth of European knowledge with him, which will be instrumental to indigenous and international companies, organisations, NGO’s and representative associations across a host of sectors as the Brexit process unfolds in the coming months and years.”
“We already had a strong working relationship with Gay as we partnered closely with him on both of his successful MEP election campaigns, so it was therefore a natural progression that he should come on board in an official capacity as Unique Media’s European Political and Public Affairs Adviser.”
“On the domestic front, Gillian has a thorough insight into national and local politics, public affairs and policy, making her an extremely valued addition to the team. Gay and Gillian’s contribution will ensure Unique Media is in a position to offer ethical and sound guidance and advice to clients on all political and public affairs aspects of their business.”
Working across a variety of sectors including Financial Services, Telecoms, Media, Technology, Health, Sport, Legal, Food, Drink, Retail and Agriculture, the Political and Public Affairs services offered by Unique Media include:
Preparing for a post-Brexit EU
Political and Public Policy Research and Analysis
Monitoring of policy and legislation formation
Government Relations – in Ireland, the UK and across Europe
Public Information Campaigns
Speech writing and preparing speakers for AGM’s, shareholders meetings to speak on EU issues
Corporate and Social Responsibility
Founded in 2003, Unique Media is a full service media consultancy firm which provides Public Relations, Media Training, Presentation Training, Advertising, Creative, Production and Broadcast Consultancy services all under the one roof. The company has a full broadcast studio on-site which allows clients to experience a real-live studio environment during media or presentation training sessions.
Unique Media is managed by co-founders Al Dunne and Breda Brown, who between them have over five decades of experience in broadcasting consultancy, radio presenting, print and radio journalism and overall media management.
Gay Mitchell was first elected to public office at the age of 27 and contested 15 local, national and European elections. He was an MEP from 2004 to 2014, when he voluntarily stood down. He served on the Development Committee of Parliament where he was Joint Coordinator (leader) of the largest group, the European Peoples’ Party (EPP). He was also EPP Joint Coordinator at the African Caribbean Pacific-EU Assembly.
In the European Parliament, Gay was Rapporteur for:
The Development Cooperation Instrument (the basic EU law on overseas development)
The Emergency Food Facility (for developing countries)
Donor Coordination of Development Aid
The report on Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction in Developing Countries
He also led Parliament’s All-Party delegation to the UN Millennium Development Goals mid-term review.
In Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, he was Rapporteur for a number of issues, including reports on the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, working closely with these institutions in drafting the reports. He was a member of Parliament’s Special Committee on the global financial crisis.
At home, Gay served at Minister for European Affairs at the Department of Taoiseach and at the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1994 – 1997. He accompanied the Taoiseach to every European Council meeting during this period in government, as well as other meetings at home and abroad, including the founding meeting of ASEM (Asian-European Ministerial Council). He presided over the preparations for Ireland’s 1996 EU Presidency.
As a Ministerial member of the EU Troika for 18 months, he met regularly with heads of State and Government, Ministers, Commissioners and senior Administrators internationally.
He was also Minister for the International Financial Services Centre at the Department of the Taoiseach (1994-1997). As Minister, he accompanied the President of Ireland on State visits to Japan, Italy, The Holy See, and the Institutions of the EU.
Gay Mitchell also served as opposition spokesperson for a variety of portfolios including Foreign Affairs (1997-2000, and 2002-2004); Health (2000-2002); Justice (1993-1994); Public Service and Constitutional Reform (1992-1992); Tourism and Transport (1989-1991); and Urban Renewal (1987-1988).
He was a member of the Irish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (1997-2000 + 2002-2004) and Chairman of its Sub-Committee on Human Rights (1997-2000). He chaired the Committee on European Affairs (2002-2004) and was a member of the Health Committee (2000-2002).
He was Lord Mayor of Dublin (1992-1993), and was Chairman of the Dáil Committee of Public Accounts (1987-1992).
As campaign manager for Fine Gael he had responsibility for organising and leading the following EU referendum campaigns in Ireland: The Single European Act (1987); The Maastricht Treaty (1992); The Amsterdam Treaty (1998); The Nice Treaty (2001); and The Lisbon Treaty (2008). He was the Irish Minister on the Reflection Group of Ministers, EU Commissioners and MEPs which negotiated the Amsterdam Treaty.
Gay Mitchell is author of the standard work on the role of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee: By Dáil Account – Auditing of Government Past Present and Future, published by the Institute of Public Administration, Dublin, 2010.
Since leaving the European Parliament in 2014, Gay Mitchell has completed research and studies, lectured at colleges and universities, spoken at business fora and been guest speaker and chair at a number of public events. He chairs the boards of a school and care facility jointly offering an innovative educational approach to 600 young people in one of the most disadvantaged communities in Ireland. He is also a member of the European Task Force on Epilepsy and of a small panel of international advisers to the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.
He holds a BA (Hons) degree in Theology, with first class honours, from the Priory Institute/ITT, Dublin, a Master of Social Science degree in politics from Queen’s University Belfast, and a Master of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Northampton, UK. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators: The Governance Institute.
About Gillian Kavanagh:
Gillian Kavanagh worked with Fine Gael for over 13 years, most recently as Media and Campaigns Manager (2011 – 2016) which involved the ongoing development of strategic messaging, co-ordinating government and party messaging and also mentoring and training election candidates.
During this time she was also a senior member of Fine Gael’s 2016 election press office team, as well as being responsible for Fine Gael’s Gender Project which delivered the highest number of female TDs in history. Activism and participation among female members of the party in the political process has also increased measurably since the Gender Project was launched.
In tandem with this, Gillian researched, developed and launched a programme of engagement with New Irish Citizens. A Strategy Group is now in place, which regularly exchanges policy ideas with Senior Government Ministers.
Prior to this, Gillian was part of Fine Gael’s Digital Team (2010-2011), managing 30 volunteers to drive Ireland’s first major electoral digital campaign, putting in place social media profiles for over 90 candidates and securing a 500% increase in traffic to Fine Gael’s digital platforms. She also managed the content, design and production of all candidates’ election literature for the duration of the General Election campaign 2011, which saw Fine Gael win 76 seats, becoming the largest party in the Dáil in its 78 year history.
As Dublin Press and Publications Officer for the party (2007-2010), Gillian was editor of ‘Dublin First’, a quarterly newspaper with 12 different constituency based editions, producing 300,000 printed copies. During this time, she also worked with all frontbench TD’s developing reputation and message profiling in media across Dublin and nationally. As Dublin Press Officer (2003-2007), she was responsible for raising the profile of a number of local and national TDs and Councillors, as well as election candidates.
Before joining Fine Gael, Gillian, who holds a BA in Journalism in DCU, was a senior journalist with the Westmeath Offaly Independent Newspaper Group, working on three separate newspaper titles in the midlands region. She focused on news gathering and writing, with a particular emphasis on politics and industrial relations activity, as well as court reporting and feature writing. She also held the role of ‘Acting Editor’ on occasion. Prior to this she worked with TV3, where she established and managed the television station’s teletext news and information service.