Revealed: State monopolies are not found stinting when it comes to splashing out on sponsorship
State-owned monopoly Gas Networks Ireland is spending €20,000 sponsoring the Wexford Opera Festival to woo locals during construction works.
Documents released to the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information Act say that the background and rationale for the sponsorship was "goodwill towards the local businesses and residents during the construction works in the town later this year".
Gas Networks Ireland's function is to "own, operate, build and maintain the natural gas network in Ireland and connect all customers to the network." It is currently working on a project to connect Wexford town to the natural gas network
Two years ago the monopoly, which is an arm of Irish Water parent Ervia, spent €10,000 sponsoring "one race in the Cork Business Houses Athletics Association race series" in order to "promote the new Gas Networks Ireland brand". It spent €25,000 to sponsor a bus transporting primary and secondary schoolchildren to the old Cork City waterworks, also to promote the new brand.
It spent €5,000 on sponsoring the Nenagh classic cycle, in an area also being connected to the natural gas network, also for goodwill.
Separate figures, also released under Freedom of Information, from ESB Networks, an arm of the state-owned ESB which is the "licensed operator of the electricity distribution system in the Republic of Ireland", reveal that it has spent €17,000 on sponsoring the Power Summit energy industry conference across 2014 and 2015.
In 2010, it spent €10,000 on a Christmas Concert linked to the Dublin Choral Foundation, and €15,000 on an "Autumn Series of Seminars" linked to the Irish Georgian Society.
Last year it spent €120,000 on a weekly safety page including electrical-safety articles in the Irish Farmers' Journal and safety advertising at that publication's events.
Sunday Indo Business