Tuesday 25 September 2018

Finance Minister defends €5m public relations machine

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has defended the Government’s new PR machine will cost the taxpayer millions of euro - despite claims by the Taoiseach that it will prove to be “cost neutral”.

Fianna Fáil has accused the Government of prioritising “spin over substance” following confirmation that the Strategic Communications Unit - headed by businessman John Concannon - will incur a cost of €5m.

In an interview with Independent.ie today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe insisted that the Taoiseach’s department has made savings in this budget. The department's budget is 2pc lower this year.

When pressed on why Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that the unit would be a cost neutral measure, Mr Donohoe repeated his stance.

Speaking to Independent.ie, senior Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen said it was clear the Government is squandering money on “spin over substance” through the creation of the new unit.

“There was one mention of public housing in the speech by Paschal Donohoe and yet the figures clearly show that €5m was spent on this spin unit. It’s deeply worrying.”

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said:

"Clear communications is a virtue. People deserve to know what their Government is doing and what they are entitled to. The Strategic Communications initiative will be cost neutral in 2018 by generating efficiencies across Government Departments and ensuring collaboration on major campaigns. The spending will come from within existing resources. Furthermore, the overall budget for the Department of the Taoiseach is 2pc lower in 2018."

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