Merrion Street’s PR Blowout

The Department of Health and Taoiseach Martin put out a small media fire last month over the former’s use of a private PR firm to help manage the government’s response towards the current crisis. Eerily reminiscent of the hamfisted spin unit that dealt Varadkar a political bloody nose, the contract tendered to the PR firm Teneo was criticised in the Oireachtas as embodying a government more enthralled with spin than actually managing the pandemic.

Little attention however has been paid to Teneo, the firm in question, as well as its political connections, both in Ireland and internationally. Outwardly a globetrotting consultancy firm dealing with corporate risk management among other high profile clients, Teneo has made a name for itself for its dealing with the who’s who of the globalist leaning elite as well as its special relationship with the Clinton power couple.

Offering a diversified range of consultancy services from crisis response and intelligence gathering to media consultancy, Teneo markets itself as the ultimate CEO’s tool in the modern business environment. Among its client list include many governments and an alphabet soup of corporate entities from CocaCola to the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), as well as the American GOP.

To add to its august reputation, Teneo has a rake of luminaries employed as senior advisors, from CIA operatives to former American President Bill Clinton. President Clinton who was paid rather handsomely for his work, so much so that it has raised certain eyebrows and spurred accusations of clientelism. In recent months alone Teneo has seen former UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan join its ranks among many others.

While a relatively young firm, Teneo has witnessed its fair share of controversy, most notably in its relationship with the Clinton empire. Founded by former advisors to the Clintons in 2015, the US State Department launched an investigation stemming from the overlap of the Clintons and the firm particularly in regards to lucrative payments made.

In addition the firm was mentioned frequently in documents obtained by the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, with accusations made that the company had been used to funnel money to the Clintons by means of inordinately priced speeches given by the former US President.

Similarly, in August 2019, one of the firm’s senior advisors Senator George Mitchell, who also acted as one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement. w named in unsealed court documents as having been involved with the notorious Jefferey Epstein, and one of his underage ‘sex slaves’, a claim that Senator Mitchell denies strongly. 

In short, Teneo is one of the great backroom players of international liberalism, heavily interwoven with the corporate, political and intelligence world as shown by their rather extensive list of government contracts.

Founded in 2011 and with offices dotted around the world Teneo functions as an unofficial halfway house between the corporate and private world. A 2015 New York Times article listed their retainer price at $250,000 with a further 2016 profile on the company documenting how entwined the firm was with the American establishment.

This is not the first Irish contract, Teneo has secured in June 2019 at an Oireachtas Oversight Committee it was revealed that Teno had conducted attitude surveys for the Department of Education. 

The company has also vastly expanded its Irish footprint, gobbling up an array of PR and consultancy firms in the country. Among their Irish staff at the firm are former rugby superstar Brian O’Driscoll employed as a senior advisor, as well as former RTÉ business journalist Conor Brophy.

In recent months Teneo has also been heavily involved directing the push for diversity in the wake of the death of George Floyd, directing anti-racist initiatives in the corporate world. In June of this year the firm also spearheaded calls to make ‘Juneteenth’ a national holiday commemorating the emancipation of American slaves along with a multitude of other corporations.

Declan Kelly: Teneo’s Talisman and Globalist High Roller

Founded by Tipperary journalist Declan Kenny, brother of Labour Party leader Alan Kelly, Teneo has made a mint in the decade or so it has been operational. A former journalist and Clinton advisor, Kelly cut his teeth with the Irish Examiner before moving on to working as a Hilary Clinton appointed envoy to Northern Ireland.

Unlike his more provincial Tipp bound brother, Declan Kelly is a veritable globalist high roller, shrewdly positioning himself as a key figure in Irish-American power relations.

In a soft profile for Irish Central, Kelly’s upward ascent is mapped out having been born to an impoverished farming family, to flipping his PR firm for millions, to rubbing shoulders with the American elites. Named extensively in the 2016 Podesta email leaks, he drew certain criticism over claims he could direct funds from charities from Irish-American charities.

In recent years he has debuted Teneo’s new intelligence division hoping to map out political hotspots with the use of tailored algorithms as well playing an executive role in fundraising efforts against Covid-19 and running youth leadership programmes for Irish undergraduates.

From an anti-globalist perspective, Kelly can be seen as a cardinal but quiet figure in Ireland’s post-Good Friday Agreement leadership caste, heavily geared towards the Atlanticist faction of the American Democratic Party and broadly speaking epitomising the value system of our elite. Infatuated with transnationalism and Americanism even as the failings of these doctrines are demonstrated in continual turmoil, Kelly is an important figure to be studied from our perspective.

It is this Atlanticist mindset that characterises the particular brand of liberalism embraced by Irish elites the past two decades, and which has entirely blinded them towards the dark places it may take Irish society in the decades to come. Due to the permutation of our ruling cadre with these left-liberal ideas, concepts around diversity or social issues that take hold in Washington very quickly find a place in the corridors of power in Dublin.

When the dust settles on the present crisis, the services rendered to the Department by Teneo should be watched with keen interest, as well as the tendering process involved. Teneo and the life and times of its founder should be taken as a perfect place to monitor the heartbeat of globalism in Ireland, as well as the vast web of connections it has made over the years. Before we can begin to challenge these networks we must study them, and even replicate them to an extent.

It’s sometimes worth looking under the trunk at the slew of PR firms and corporate entities guiding the Irish government’s direction, Teneo chief among them. It will no doubt be fascinating to see this group’s influence on the covid response, as well as other matters going forward.

In the 21st century real power lies less with the jaded nation states of Europe than with the nexus of powerful global institutions that influence our world daily. Teneo and its meteoric rise to prominence is perhaps a story for our era and one we shouldn’t turn our eyes away from.

Posted by Ciaran Brennan


  1. Nathan Collins 31/10/2020 at 4:36 pm

    Very spooky article for Halloween if you get my drift.


  2. Clintons yet again raise their ugly heads into Irish affairs


  3. William O'Brien 31/10/2020 at 11:07 pm

    You’re really knocking them out of the park, Ciaran! Another insightful piece. Thanks.


  4. Very good article. Triple tau symbol hidden within logo.


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