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Taoiseach must scrap strategic communications unit and come before the PAC – McDonald

6 March, 2018 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking at Leaders’ Questions today, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to disband the Strategic Communications Unit and to come before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“In Budget 2018, your Strategic Communications Unit was given €5 million.

“To put that in context, that is a third of the additional money that was allocated to Mental Health services.

“Your Communications Unit is now mired in scandal.

“In October you said, ‘There will be no political advertising and no promotion of political parties. The Civil Service and public sector code will continue to apply in that regard’. This has clearly not been the case.

“This was spin in and of itself. Your spin unit has been following a strategy to promote Fine Gael in newspapers. It has implemented this very sly strategy by directing editors to present paid-for political advertising as regular news articles.

“This sly communications strategy to promote your party was carried out using public money. It was carried out using public resources of the Civil Service.

“The Civil Service cannot be used for the advancement of the party political aims of those in government. Yet, that is exactly what you have done.

“That is dangerous and it is unacceptable. This was not about informing citizens. It is about promoting your party among them.

“This was not news. It was political propaganda. It was not done to benefit the people. It was done to benefit Fine Gael.”

Teachta McDonald said that that Taoiseach must now move to disband the unit and she said “he must come before the PAC and given an explanation as to how public money has been spent on and by the Strategic Communications Unit.” 

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