Sunday 15 December 2019

Taoiseach defends €1.5m publicity campaign for National Development Plan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hit back at criticisms of a taxpayer-funded publicity campaign for the €116bn National Development Plan (NDP).

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, said the Government was abusing taxpayers’ money to boost the election chances of Fine Gael politicians. He said the publicity campaign for the NDP was the most expensive in the State’s history and amounted to "an abuse of taxpayers’ money."

"You have used taxpayers’ money for party political advantage," Mr Martin said.

The Taoiseach said the NDP publicity campaign cost €1.5m – and said this was 10pc of the most expensive ever publicity campaign. 

This was a climate change information campaign costing €15m undertaken by the 2007-2011 Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition.

Mr Varadkar said another Fianna Fáil government scheme called "Transport 21" had cost €3m – or twice the current campaign cost.

The Taoiseach said he had no role in choosing the details of advertorial space bought in local and national newspapers by the civil service-staffed Strategic Communications Unit.

"It’s my view that good communications is a virtue. The Government needs to do more to let people know what they are doing," Mr Varadkar added.

The Taoiseach was called to order by the Dáil chairman, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who objected to Mr Varadkar citing various publicity campaigns done by Fianna Fáil in government.

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