Dept of Taoiseach should be brought before PAC on Ireland 2040 advertising

Issued : Monday 26 February, 2018

Vice Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Alan Kelly TD has called on the Department of the Taoiseach to come before the Public Accounts Committee to face questioning on the spending by the Strategic Communications Unit on the advertisement of the Ireland 2040 project.

Deputy Kelly said:

“Following advertisements in cinemas, national newspapers and regional newspapers, it is now vital that the Department of the Taoiseach come before the PAC to face questioning from members on the spending of public funds on the promotion of the Ireland 2040 project.

“We need to discuss whether the deployment of a significant quantity of traditional and social media advertising by the Taoiseach's Department amounts to an improper use of public funds for political ends. And also, whether the staff recruited to serve in the Strategic Communications Unit have been appropriately recruited under the Public Service Management Act.

“Media reports today and over the weekend show the lengths the Spin Unit have went to to make sure that local newspapers were writing good news stories about the latest National Development Plan. It is not right that the Government are holding local media outlets in these type of strangleholds.

“Many of these pieces in local media have not been marked as advertorials, the question must be asked if these pieces go against the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland’s guidelines on advertising. Consumers have a right to know if pieces in their local newspaper are paid advertorials. I will be writing to the ASAI to seek clarity on this.

“When the PAC meets later this week, I will be raising these issues with a view to ensuring the Department of the Taoiseach are called before the committee sooner rather than later.”


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