Brendan Howlin writes to political standards watchdog over Leo Varadkar’s ‘spin unit’

LABOUR Chief BRENDAN Howlin TD has composed to the Benchmarks in General public Office Fee over the Taoiseach’s new Strategic Communications Device (SCU).

The new device is less than the Department of the Taoiseach and will cost €5 million next year but has been criticised by opposition politicians as a “spin unit”.

It is prepared that the new unit will function in tandem with the existing Government Information and facts Support but Howlin has now raised considerations that it may perhaps be made use of inappropriately.

In Tuesday’s Budget, the SCU’s €5 million-a-calendar year pricetag was uncovered and it the document reported that it would “streamline communications” along all govt departments.

The Federal government Info Support is staffed by civil servants but questions have been elevated about how appointments have been created to the SCU.

In the Dáil yesterday, Varadkar said that he had “appointed” John Concannon to the SCU, just before correcting himself and expressing that he just asked him was he offered.

“I mentioned it with the Secretary General definitely right before I appointed him – or prior to I asked if he would be readily available to be appointed,” Varadkar reported through Leaders’ Questions.

Concannon was previously behind the marketing and advertising tactic for strategies such as the Wild Atlantic Way and The Gathering

Within the SCU, Concannon works at the assistant secretary quality which instructions a salary of among €122,313 and €139,728.

In Howlin’s letter to SIPO, the Labour chief can make reference to video clips and photos of Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe that have been produced on Price range day.

“These adverts contained only photographs of the Taoiseach and the Minister of Finance – both of those Great Gael ministers and were being observed with substantial frequency on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube in the course of the training course of yesterday,” Howlin suggests.

This type of advertising and marketing could reasonably be construed as an inappropriate raising of the profiles of workplace holders.

In a assertion right now, Howlin claimed he is trying to find clarification on regardless of whether this marketing amounts to “an inappropriate use of community funds for political ends”.

“And secondly, no matter if the staff recruited to provide in the Strategic Communications Device have been appropriately recruited beneath the Public Company Administration Act,” the Labour leader claimed.

Examine: Revealed: Taoiseach’s new communications device to price €5m upcoming yr >

Browse: Varadkar stunned that the opposition are ‘more obsessed about his PR than he is’ >