Monday 19 March 2018

Paschal Donohoe defends 'vital' need to communicate with citizens despite controversy over SCU

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe
Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

FINANCE Minister Paschal Donohoe has said he is “more convinced than ever that it is vital for the government to be able to communicate with its own citizens”, despite the controversy over the Strategic Communications Unit (SCU).

Mr Donohoe was speaking as the opposition has called on the SCU to be disbanded amid claims civil servants have been used to promote Fine Gael in a PR campaign on the government’s €116bn spending plan.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has rejected such allegations but has announced a review of the €5m SCU.

He said today that it had become a distraction and scrapping the unit was one option “that’s going to have to be examined”.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Labour leader Brendan Howlin have called for the SCU to be disbanded.

Speaking to reporters in London Mr Donohoe was asked if it is time to shut down the SCU.

He noted that Mr Varadkar has instigated a review of the unit but added: “I remain more convinced than ever that it vital for a government to be able to communicate with its own citizens regarding how they spend their money and implement their policies."

He referred to the way the government has delivered information about last week's snow storm.

“I think we have seen the success of that kind of approach across a very difficult period where our country was dealing with the very, very harsh weather and the great difficulty that was created over the last number of days.”

Mr Donohoe said; “I think that success will be built upon and the Taoiseach has implemented a review to deal with some of the concerns that have been raised.”

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