Monday 16 July 2018

MacSharry says he was not being anti-semitic in speech

It cost €45,000 to host the Cabinet meeting at IT Sligo where the Government launched its development plan, Project Ireland 2040. Pic: D.Hackett
It cost €45,000 to host the Cabinet meeting at IT Sligo where the Government launched its development plan, Project Ireland 2040. Pic: D.Hackett

Paul Deering

Deputy Marc MacSharry has hit back at critics who have accused him of using anti-semitic remarks in the Dáil as a row over a Government advertising campaign erupted on the floor of the House.

And, it was all to do with the Cabinet's meeting in Sligo which launched its development plan 2040 and follow-up ads by the Government in regional and local newspapers.

Deputy MacSharry told The Sligo Champion it was outrageous to accuse him of being anti-semitic and that all he was doing was using an historical metaphor in criticising the Government's advertising campaign.

Deputy MacSharry said:"The misuse of 1.5m of taxpayers money for what appears to many to be solely for Fine Gaels party political gain against a backdrop of service cuts and downgrades in the regions is a matter I consider to be or the utmost seriousness.

"As a member of the Public Accounts Committee the potential misappropriation of the people's money is paramount.

"As far as I am concerned the Fine Gael use of public money in this way is despicable and I very much hope that if the Dail isn't prepared to do something about it that the Standards In Public Office Commission take the necessary action to protect tax payers money and seek its return.

"Any suggestion that I am anti Semitic , racist or prejudice is outrageous, wrong and totally without foundation.

"I used an historical metaphor of someone infamous for their use of propaganda and that alone.

"That's the context and it is a valid metaphor in terms of the current use of propaganda by Fine Gael and the Government who on the one hand are doing the devil and all and on the other hand are cutting services.

The use of public funds as can be seen throughout most regional and national news papers with advertorials presented as news and interviews paid for by taxpayers is shameful, wrong and as I said in the Dail tantamount to theft of the people's money. Fine Gael must pay back this money to the state.

"The Government reaction was nothing more than a tactic to deflect focus from the potential misappropriation of taxpayers money for party political gain.

"Indeed, Alan Shatters tweet describes Minister Harris's comments as "hyperbole" and "not an attack" on anyone.

"This attempted deflection continued at Taoiseach's questions where he sought withdrawals and apologies for what is the truth.

"Incredibly, others in Dáil Éireann and sadly much of the main stream media took the bate, bought Leo's dummy and ignored the real issue.

"I am guided by the people in my work on their behalf.

"The issue here is misuse of their money for party political gain €1.5m of it. The Fine Gael mirage of all that's being done on rural and regional Ireland is absolutely captured in the following quote from an infamous master of spin who once allegedly once said "if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, People will eventually come to believe it"

That may be their ethos and mission but the people won't stand for it and as a TD elected by the people I won't stand for it either"

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the promotion of the Project Ireland 2040 plan, insisting there was no instruction from Government officials to newspaper editors to "blur the line" between news and advertising.

The decision of the Taoiseach to order a review of the government’s Strategic Communications Unit and to initiate new guidelines for state sponsored advertorials has been welcomed by the NUJ.

Sligo Champion