Document:Cabinet Publicity Committee
Subjects: Cabinet Publicity Committee, Northern Ireland, Propaganda
pp. 72-73 from Don't Mention the War: Northern Ireland, Propaganda and the Media, reproduced by permission of the author.
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The Unionist Prime Minister Basil Brooke had created a Cabinet Publicity Committee in 1943 and the Information Service as a separate entity came into existence in 1955. But, it was not until the mid sixties that 'modern' ideas about marketing and image entered Northern Ireland politics under the impetus of Finance Minister Terence O'Neill. In 1962 ex Belfast Telegraph journalist Tommy Roberts was appointed as Public Relations officer at the Ulster Office in London by O'Neill, in the face of Cabinet Office objections. His job was to remedy the 'bad industrial press' which O'Neill thought that Northern Ireland was getting. In 1963 O'Neill became Prime Minister and Roberts, while remaining based in London, operated informally as his press secretary on his almost annual visits to the US .
On the election of O'Neill's successor James Chichester-Clark as Prime Minister, some members of the cabinet decided that the new prime minister needed a press secretary. Information Officer, David Gilliland, was offered the newly created post, but he made his acceptance conditional on two demands. Firstly that he would have immediate access to the Prime Minister and secondly that he would attend Cabinet meetings (Belfast Telegraph 21 May 1987). These proposals were met with considerable resistance. According to one Stormont Information Officer, the Cabinet was used to meeting in secret with 'none of these rotten press chaps around' (Interview, Belfast August 1989) The terms were, however, agreed. A New York public relations firm was also appointed in 1970 and their official function was 'promoting economic investment in Northern Ireland'