By Fiach Kelly and Shane Phelan
The minister with responsibility for FAS, Ruairi Quinn, last night refused to criticise the granting of the contract to consultants Fleishman Hillard, insisting he had no role in it.
Fleishman’s head of consulting, Mark Mortell, was one of the architects of Fine Gael‘s historic election victory. He was a key adviser to Mr Kenny and also played a critical role in the coalition negotiations with the Labour Party.
The decision to award the two-year contract — estimated to be worth around €300,000 — was made on February 25, the day of the general election.
The full FAS board was notified on March 1, just days before Fine Gael and Labour agreed a coalition deal.
The awarding of the contract led to opposition accusations that friends of Fine Gael picked up state contracts as the party prepared for power.
But Mr Mortell insisted there was no “cronyism” involved in the process.
While in opposition, Fine Gael accused Fianna Fail of awarding contracts to PR companies it had strong links with. The party dubbed the firm Q4 “friends of Fianna Fail”.