Chris Wall, ‘great friend’ and adviser to Bertie Ahern, dies after long illness

Former taoiseach says the Fianna Fáil veteran was a ‘phenomenal organiser’

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has paid tribute to his "great friend" and adviser Chris Wall, who has died after a long illness.

Mr Ahern described Mr Wall as “one of my key guys” and a “phenomenal organiser” as he offered his deepest sympathy to Mr Wall’s family.

Mr Wall worked with Mr Ahern for more than four decades and he was also an important figure in Fianna Fáil, being involved in several election successes for the party.

Mr Wall was a prominent figure in Irish athletics both as a competitor at national level and as international secretary for Bord Lúthchleas na hÉireann (BLE) and then the Athletics Association of Ireland for 16 years.


Mr Ahern told The Irish Times that “Chris was about three things” – family, athletics and politics.

He said Mr Wall was a devoted husband and father and his “second love was athletics”.

In relation to politics, Mr Ahern said: “He was one of my key guys”, including serving as the former taoiseach’s director of elections in the 1990s.

Mr Wall was also a member of Fianna Fáil’s National Executive for many years, and Mr Ahern said he served on the election committee with PJ Mara in 1997, 2002 and 2007.

He said Mr Wall had a reputation as a "tough guy" in politics and spoke of a time when he challenged then party leader Charles Haughey over candidate selection in Dublin Central.

Mr Wall was pushing for Tom Leonard to be on the ticket to succeed the late George Colley in a 1983 byelection and asked Mr Haughey if he was trying to influence who was running, "'or do you want to win the election?'"

Mr Ahern said Mr Haughey wasn’t used to this kind of response and responded: “‘Of course I want to win the seat.’”

Mr Ahern added: “We got our choice for who was on the ticket and we won the seat.”

Seanad appointment

Mr Ahern appointed Mr Wall to the Seanad briefly in 2007 to take a seat vacated by a successful Dáil candidate prior to the holding of the election to the Upper House.

Considered to be a member of the so-called “Drumcondra Mafia”, Mr Wall was not among the group of 12 of Mr Ahern’s friends that loaned him €50,000 in the early 1990s.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also paid tribute to Mr Wall, saying: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Chris Wall.

“Chris was a serving member of the party’s National Executive, a body on which he sat for many years.

“I greatly valued his contributions and insights.”

He said Mr Wall was “an outstanding party activist at both national and grassroots levels and contributed greatly to the party over many decades.

“He will be sadly missed.

“My deepest sympathies to his wife Myra, his children Jacqueline, Richard, Eileen and Mary and his extended family and friends at this difficult time.”

Athletics Ireland also extended its sympathies to Mr Wall’s family and friends.

It outlined how he was a member of Celtic Dublin City Harriers, a successful 800m runner, and how he played "an integral role is securing the World [Athletics] Cross Country Championships in Leopardstown in 2002".

It said: “We are indebted to him for his service and contributions to the sport.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times