Strategic Communications Unit must be disbanded - Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams TD has described the Strategic Communications Unit as “a shameless PR strategy of self-promotion by Fine Gael" and the Independent Alliance representatives “an unacceptable and blatant abuse of political power”.
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Gerry Adams TD said:
“The Taoiseach announced the establishment of the Strategic Communications Unit during Taoiseach’s Questions last July. This was in response to a question from the Labour leader. The Taoiseach told us that it would be small unit within his department.
"In response I said that I thought that a strategic communications unit might be a good idea. Provided, I told the Taoiseach, that we know what strategy is involved and we have more information on it, instead of it just being dropped in, as it were, in one or two sentences.
"I said that I could imagine that this could be a Tony Blair type machine, but it could equally be something that looks at the main strategic objectives of a government.
"One could, I argued, say that it would have to include the delivery of the Good Friday Agreement, Brexit, a united Ireland and how one would get and win a referendum on Irish unity.
"Of course, my concern that this would simply become a spin machine for Fine Gael has been borne out by the debacle surrounding the launch of Project Ireland 2040.
"This was a shameless PR strategy of self-promotion by Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance representatives.
"But the deliberate promotion of Fine Gael and Independent Alliance members has gone beyond even that.
"Keeping citizens informed about the work of government, and how their taxes are being spent is one thing, promoting the Taoiseach or his party or others in government, is another and an unacceptable and blatant abuse of political power.
"Of course, this is not the first government to use government resources and personnel to promote the party political interests.
"Fianna Fáil are masters at that but in this instance the line between government, the role of the civil service and elected representatives has been more significantly blurred that it would make even Fianna Fáil blush.
"This unit has also been established at a significant financial cost. Contrary to the claims that it would be cost neutral this Fine Gael promotional PR spin machine is costing the taxpayers six million euro.
"This motion is about accountability. It’s about transparency in government.
"I would urge all Teachtaí to support Sinn Féin’s motion calling for it to be disbanded; for those involved with it to appear before the Public Accounts committee, and for an independent panel to be established to examine and recommend the best method of communicating the work of government that is above politics and based on value for money.”