NEWS: Irish agency in row over way it secured divorce ad contract
campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 26 January 1996 12:00AM
One of Ireland’s leading advertising agencies is at the centre of an embarrassing political row over the way in which it was awarded a pounds 500,000 Irish government contract to handle last November’s divorce referendum campaign.
One of Ireland’s leading advertising agencies is at the centre of an
embarrassing political row over the way in which it was awarded a pounds
500,000 Irish government contract to handle last November’s divorce
The controversy was provoked by the public disclosure of a letter that
was sent by Conor Quinn, managing director of the Dublin agency, Quinn
McDonnell Pattison, to an Irish government aide last May.
In the letter Quinn, an older brother of the Irish finance minister,
Ruairi Quinn, referred to ‘our appointment to handle the advertising for
the divorce referendum’. However, more than a month later, another
leading Dublin agency, McConnell’s, was invited to make a presentation
to a government sub-committee - together with Quinn McDonnell - in the
belief that it was still in the race.
Meanwhile, in the Irish parliament, ministers denied that the contract
had been awarded. The official announcement that it had gone to Quinn
McDonnell was not made until September.
Angry opposition MPs have accused the government of sharp practice. They
claim that both parliament and the McConnell’s agency were misled.
Six leading Irish agencies were originally invited to tender for the
contract, according to government spokesmen. They said it was suggested
Quinn McDonnell and McConnell’s work together on the campaign. Both
declined. It was then recommended that Quinn McDonnell be given the
But the government spokesmen insisted that it was a recommendation, not
an appointment. They said McConnell’s was invited back because of delays
in holding the referendum and that a new sub-committee had backed the
original recommendation in favour of Quinn McDonnell.
The Quinn letter was disclosed during an Irish High Court challenge to
the referendum result. Quinn wrote: ‘The announcement of our appointment
should be low key and part of an overall release about some other aspect
of the referendum.’
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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