Ex Fine Gael TD Ivan Yates is now advising Fianna Fail
3rd December 2022
Former broadcaster and Fine Gael minister Ivan Yates is coaching Fianna Fáil on how to sharpen its political message.
In a bold move to resuscitate the party’s dated communication strategy, Fianna Fáil’s new head of communications has hired her former TV colleague Mr Yates as an adviser. The decision will raise eyebrows given the strong Fine Gael pedigree of the former agriculture minister.
Siobhán Russell previously produced Virgin Media’s The Tonight Show, which was co-presented by Yates from 2017 to 2020. The former TV and radio star’s new role as a consigliore to his old party’s Civil War adversaries is just the latest twist in Yates’s colourful professional life.© Provided by Extra.ie Fine Gael spokesman on the Enviroment Ivan Yates during a White Paper launch called Get Dublin Moving. 8/5/2000 Photo Joe Dunne/Photocall Ireland
After a gilded career in politics, Mr Yates was one of the favourites to succeed John Bruton when he resigned as leader of Fine Gael in January 2001.
Instead, he announced to his gobsmacked colleagues that he was switching full-time politics for a new career as a bookie. In the wake of the fall of Celtic bookmakers, Mr Yates experienced a painful period of bankruptcy that incorporated a 16-month exile in Swansea.
But he then reinvented himself as an outspoken radio show host and went on to form an unlikely alliance with co-presenter Matt Cooper on The Tonight Show. After a number of previous retirements, Mr Yates definitively left the talk-show game in June 2020 and now offers media consultancy via a new company Media Masterclass.© Provided by Extra.ie (L to R)Ivan Yates Fine Gael spokesman on the Enviroment and John Bruton T.D Fine Gael Party Leader at the launch of Fine Gael’s major new environment policy which proposes to cut the Nations greenhouse gas emissions at the Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin.1/11/2000 Photo: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland!
Mr Yates is believed to charge €1,500 for the day-long class, with the option of paying an extra €450 for a personal Zoom call and a grilling on a topic of your choice. The public relations calamities suffered by a host of high-profile figures such as former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, ex-minister Pádraig ‘three houses’ Flynn, ‘swing-gate’ politician Maria Bailey and former FAI chief John Delaney feature in the media masterclasses.
The usually loquacious Yates said: ‘I don’t talk publicly about any clients be they in business, politics, charity, sports or the public sector.’
Mr Yates did, however, confirm his business has, in partnership with public events company IQuest, ‘completed six courses’ and has booked another six with an organisation he declined to identify.© Provided by Extra.ie L TO R. Michael Lowry with Michael Noonan and Fine Gael Minister for Agriculture Ivan Yates at the party’s Ard Fheis. 9/3/96
He said there has been ‘many individual follow ups’ and ‘one-toone mock interviews involving the full range of representative organisations’ and added that parties from across the political gamut can avail of his expertise.
‘I sent an invite letter to all TDs and senators and individuals from all shades of political spectrum have enrolled,’ Mr Yates said. In an indication that not even the pandemic can quench the thirst of politicians for positive media coverage, he added, ‘I expect growth for this start-up since September, despite Covid’.
Yates said his role as ‘communications coach’ will evolve and that it is now his ‘main career/business interest’ alongside doing turns as MC for events run by IQuest. He expects ‘it will take a few years’ to establish the reputation of his media masterclasses.
Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members who attended his classes were generally complimentary about the experience. Senator Fiona O’Loughlin said: ‘It was very interesting, you don’t often get someone from both sides of the fence. It was certainly worthwhile.’
Another source said: ‘It was certainly bracing. He doesn’t hold back. It was useful to talk to someone who actually knows how modern media works.’
Fine Gael sources who spoke to the MoS were not surprised at Mr Yates’s latest career turn. One senior party figure said: ‘After the shellackings Ivan gave his old friend [former Taoiseach] Enda Kenny he would be more popular in Fianna Fáil than Fine Gael.’
Yates repeatedly dismissed Kenny as ‘a dead man walking’ while the former Taoiseach dismissed his former colleague as a ‘mercenary’ who regularly got things wrong.