FINE Gael has outspent all of its rivals in splashing over €800,000 of taxpayers' money on consultants, public relations and opinion polling.
It is a sign the largest party in Government is engaged in intense work to keep track of public reaction to its policies – and find ways of boosting its support.
New figures supplied by the party show that it has spent over €437,000 on "research and public sampling" last year.
The party also spent €305,000 on consultancy fees on PR, IT and human resources. It spent another €70,000 on media training for its members, €34,000 on "media monitoring" and €21,000 on "media and publicity".
The funding is supplied by the taxpayer to Fine Gael in the Parliamentary Leader's allowance. As the biggest party in the Dail, it received the largest amount – over €2.6m.
But Fianna Fail, Labour, Sinn Fein, the Greens, the Socialist Party and People before Profit did not use any of their funding from the party leader's allowance for consultancy.
A Fine Gael spokesman said the party had complied with the disclosure requirements of the Standards in Public Office Commission. He declined to provide any further details of the party's spending on research, consultancy and media monitoring.
Labour got €1.7m under the party leader's allowance, Fianna Fail got €1.6m and Sinn Fein got €1m.
Until the last Budget, the party leader's allowance had remained untouched.
But last December, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin announced the amount paid would be cut by 10pc.
This means that the €7.5m received by all parties under the allowance last year is likely to fall to €6.75m this year.
Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and the Labour Party also received separate funding of €5.4m under the Electoral Acts.
This brought the total State funding for political parties last year to almost €14m.