Taoiseach the king of spin as FG spends €550,000 on PR services
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny spent more than €550,000 of taxpayers' money last year on spin, PR and media classes.
Mr Kenny used his party leader's allowance, which comes from the public purse, to brush up on presentational skills for himself and members of his parliamentary party ahead of the general election.
Accounts filed with the Standards in Public Office commission (SIPO) show Fine Gael was allocated almost €3m of taxpayers' money for the party leader's allowance in 2010 -- and spent one sixth of it on media services.
Fine Gael will not say which companies it used and said the fund was used for all members of the parliamentary party.
However, Fleishman Hillard, which counts one of Mr Kenny's key advisors, Mark Mortell, as a director, confirmed it did some of this work.
A spokeswoman for Fleishman Hillard would not divulge the value or nature of the work carried out, or if Mr Mortell was involved, citing client confidentiality.
She added that the firm did not carry out work for any other political party last year.
Well-known media guru Terry Prone and her son Anton Savage were also employed by the party to help Mr Kenny and others refine their presentation.
All political parties receive funding under the leader's allowance, although it depends on how strong their Dail representation is.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail received the most, then Labour, Sinn Fein and the Greens.
But none of the party leaders spent as much as Mr Kenny on spin and media services.
He spent €70,000 on media training, €184,828 on media, HR and PR media management, as well as IT, and €297,484 on researching public attitudes.
However, this is less than the €642,219 spent by the party on PR consulting, polling ideas and focus groups in 2009.
Among the other parties, Brian Cowen, the former leader of Fianna Fail, listed €347,000 spent on "professional fees" and €62,620 on "research" in 2010 but no more details were provided. The party spent just under €400,000 in 2009.
Fianna Fail spent €2.4m of the party leader's allowance, with €579,620 going on "office and parliamentary overheads".
Former Green leader John Gormley spent €132,823 on "communications, printing and literature" and €3,517 on "media services", while Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party spent €92,660 on "public relations and printing".