Fianna Fáil TD defies party leader and stands by 'Nazi' jibes over Government PR
Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry has defied party leader Micheál Martin and is standing over claims that the Government's launch of its €116bn spending plan was "Goebbels-style".
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar criticised Nazi comparisons - also made by Labour TD Alan Kelly in relation to the Project Ireland 2040 plan - as "beneath contempt".
Mr Martin called on politicians who made such remarks to withdraw them.
But Mr MacSharry has insisted his comparison between the PR campaign and Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was a "valid metaphor". He claimed that the promotion of the spending plan was "propaganda by Fine Gael".
"The misuse of €1.5m of taxpayers' money for what appears to many to be solely for Fine Gael's party political gain, against a backdrop of service cuts... in the regions" is a matter of the "utmost seriousness", Mr MacSharry said. He called on Fine Gael to return the cash.
Mr MacSharry rejected suggestions made in the Dáil that his comments were anti-Semitic as "wrong and totally without foundation".
He is among opposition politicians who have claimed that taxpayers' money is being spent on newspaper advertorials that promote Fine Gael candidates and blur the lines between advertising and news stories.
Mr Varadkar has argued the PR efforts are merely an information campaign on the work of the Government and rejected suggestions it is to promote Fine Gael.
But amid the controversy the Taoiseach has ordered a general review of the Government's Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) and is seeking changes to the protocols involved in buying up advertising space.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called on Mr Varadkar to disband the SCU and cease the use of public money for "partisan" advertisements.