The Irish Mail on Sunday
The Irish connection
From the trusted members of the organisation’s backroom staff to Niall’s personal retinue of Irish beauties, One Direction’s links with this country go way beyond Mullingar
WHILE Niall Horan is the only Irish member of 1D, two of the most important people around them are Irish. Security specialist Paul Higgins and bodyguard Paddy O’Brien are in the inner circle of the One Direction organisation.
And it’s testament to their importance in the 1D team that Paul and Paddy have themselves gained celebrity status among One Directioners.
Paul has nearly a million followers on Twitter in his own right and fans are as familiar with Paul and Paddy as they are with the boys themselves.
Paul Higgins has been looking after the band’s security since they took part in X Factor 2010. From Bray, Co. Wicklow, he also acts as tour manager for Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis.
His experience in the business stretches back to the 1990s when Boyzone started out. The trusted aide has worked with Westlife, Girls Aloud and former X Factor star Shayne Ward. He set up his own firm, All Star Security, based in Britain.
The father of three is affectionately nicknamed ‘ daddy’ by the boyband while on tour – he has also been called One Direction’s babysitter by the group’s fans.
He provides round-the-clock security as the boys wade through crowds of fans and paparazzi on their voyage across the world. It is understood that Higgins also acquires the help of some local security workers when he travels to different countries because they have knowledge of the area.
In May 2012, he hit the headlines when he was involved in an altercation with a paparazzo who allegedly shouted racial abuse at Zayn Malik as he left Los Angeles Airport in May 2012. Fans were outraged after they claimed the photographer shouted a racial slur at Zayn.
One of the most popular One Direction fan accounts ‘@1Dneews’ posted: ‘Paparazzi were so rude at LAX last night. Calling zayn a “P****” is not right at all.’ It was also reported that Mr Higgins once banned heartthrob Harry Styles from taking two beautiful women back to his hotel suite at 3am in Auckland, New Zealand, during a world tour.
The close relationship between Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, Louis and their tour manager has developed beyond work.
The five young stars attended Mr Higgins’s wedding to his wife, Clodagh, in 2011 and they also thanked him in their Brit Awards acceptance speech.
Tallaght-born bodyguard Paddy O’Brien has been mixing with the rich and famous for the past 10 years – he was the head doorman at Lillie’s Bordello during the nightclub’s celebrity heyday.
Having been entrusted with the VIP secrets of Ireland’s most famous club he was approached by Louis Walsh in 2011 to look after twins Jedward.