Department of Foreign Affairs Abusing Taxpayers' Money – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has accused the Department of Foreign Affairs of a “massive abuse of tax payers' money” and called on Mícheál Martin to publicly explain “why €564,922.00 of tax payers' money is being used to promote a Yes vote in the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum.”
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“In response to a Parliamentary Question this week Minister Mícheál Martin revealed that €564,922.00 of taxpayers' money has been awarded to Language Communications Ltd for the purposes of running ‘a public information campaign to inform and promote awareness of the European Union and Ireland’s membership of the European Union.’
“This is a thinly-veiled attempt by the Minister and his Department to mis-spend taxpayers' money in an attempt to secure a Yes vote in the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum.
“The government and opposition both have a responsibility to ensure that the public are informed on the politics and policies of the European Union. However, that the Minister has allowed such a large sum of public money to be used in this manner in the run up to the October 2nd referendum is nothing short of an abuse of his Department's funds.
“Language Communications Ltd is using this money to host ‘public information’ meetings and to publish ‘public information’ leaflets promoting the impact of EU policy county by county.
“At the public meetings speakers are advocating support for the Lisbon Treaty and the information contained is both biased and one sided.
“At a time when funding for front line public services is being cut, this abuse of tax payers’ money is yet another example of the government's cavalier disregard for probity in the use of public funds. The Minister must explain his position.’ ENDS
Note to editors: the PQ and Ministerial Reply on which this statement is based is contained below.
Question No. 792
Parliamentary Question - Dept Details
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details and costs of a tender recently awarded to a public relations company to provide information about the workings of the European Union in advance of the Lisbon Treaty referendum.
- Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 16th September, 2009.
Ref No: 31623/09
A request for tenders was published on 17 April for the provision of project management and consultancy services to advise and assist the Department of Foreign Affairs in the planning and execution of a public information campaign to inform and promote awareness of the European Union and Ireland’s membership of the European Union.
Deepening public understanding of the EU and maximising public awareness of Ireland’s role in the Union is an ongoing strategic priority for my Department.
The deadline for submission of tenders was 11 May 2009. Fourteen tenders were received and detailed consideration was given to these tenders in accordance with the normal public procurement rules and with a view to ensuring value for money.
It was decided on 22 May to award the contract to Language Communications Ltd. The contract value was €564,922.00, inclusive of VAT. The bulk of that amount was allocated to cover the cost of advertising in a range of local and national media. The contract was signed on 19 June 2009.