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Ireland Varadkar accused of misleading Dáil over €5m 'spin unit' cost

11:55  11 october  2017
11:55  11 october  2017 Source:   independent.ie

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Sinn Féin has accused the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of having "deliberately misled the Dáil " about an Oireachtas vote on the legal status of Project Ireland 2040. The plan, which was launched in Sligo IT on Friday following a Cabinet meeting there

Leo Varadkar told to restrain himself as he struggles to defend his € 5 m Spin Unit 's Propaganda in newspapers promoting Ireland 2040 dail .

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been accused of misleading the Dáil after it emerged his controversial Strategic Communications Unit will cost the taxpayer a massive €5m. © Getty Images Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been accused of misleading the Dáil after it emerged his controversial Strategic Communications Unit will cost the taxpayer a massive €5m. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been accused of misleading the Dáil after it emerged his controversial Strategic Communications Unit will cost the taxpayer a massive €5m.

Mr Varadkar previously said the first-of-its-kind public relations division in the Taoiseach's office would save the taxpayer money and also said the division would be cost neutral.

However, the Government's expenditure report for 2018 shows €5m has been budgeted for the publicity unit next year.

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Embarrassment for Taoiseach as Dáil votes by 85-49 to disband ‘ spin unit ’. Micheál Martin accuses Varadkar of a ‘deep’ obsession with spin . Varadkar to come under further pressure over ‘propaganda unit ’.

There were sharp exchanges in the Dáil between the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader after Micheál Martin accused Leo Varadkar of resisting the release of information on the controversial Strategic Communications Unit .

Last night, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said the suggestion the new unit would not cost the State any money was "utterly false".

"Clearly it is a major propaganda agency that is going to profligate for Leo and the Government at the taxpayers' expense and we have been misled about this," Mr Howlin said.

He also noted the €5m assigned to the communications unit was more than the combined amount of State funding given to Opposition parties. During the Dáil budget debate, Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Dara Calleary called the communications division the "Government's cheerleading unit".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar © Provided by Irish Independent Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

In response to parliamentary questions by Fianna Fáil, Mr Varadkar previously said: "In fact, it (the unit) is likely to give rise to a significant increase in value for money and a reduction in overall expenditure, over time."

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A spokesman for the Government yesterday said that the communications unit would be cost neutral next year by "generating efficiencies across government departments and ensuring collaboration on major campaigns".

"The spending will come from within existing resources," he added. "Furthermore, the overall budget for the Department of the Taoiseach is 2pc lower in 2018."

Former Creative Ireland director John Concannon is heading up the division, along with five civil servants who have been seconded to the new division in the Taoiseach's office.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the unit would make "more efficient use of resources" in departments, but denied the €5m spend on publicity was going to waste before it was allocated to the Taoiseach's department.

Tracker scandal: Paschal is calling bankers next week to 'admonish' them .
Donohoe is calling in the bankers on Monday and Tuesday to “admonish” the chief executives.Donohoe is calling in the CEOs of Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, PTSB and KBC on Monday and Tuesday to “admonish” them over their behaviour, said the Taoiseach today.

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