Howlin repeats call for scrapping of Strategic Communications Unit

Issued 4 March 2018

Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD, has repeated his call for the Taoiseach’s vanity project, the Strategic Communications Unit to be disbanded.

This follows the publication of internal Government correspondence today by the Sunday Business Post.

Deputy Howlin said:

“There are a number of things that arise from today’s story that confirm the Taoiseach is set on self-advancement and self-promotion.

“It is clear from the outset that promoting the political agenda of Fine Gael has always been at the heart of this project.

“As much as the Taoiseach tries to tell us otherwise, this is not about legitimate public information campaigns, it is about Fine Gael politicising the functions of the State, and the agencies of the State. Early exchanges indicating the use of Taoiseach Varadkar’s ‘Republic of Opportunity’ motto as a theme for SCU’s operations is proof of that.

“It is clear too from the audit undertaken by the SCU that the intent to control all Government communications around this core political messaging is also present from the outset.

“The emails released talk about the confusion about Government messaging in the minds of the public. The problem is far more serious than that. It indicates a confusion or deliberate obfuscation by Government about the line between Government and politics.

“Any review led by the Secretary General in the Taoiseach’s Department is clearly a nonsense. If there is to be a review it has to be independent and from outside of the civil service which the Taoiseach has tainted in this process.

“The said thing is that a publicly spirited review of Government communications is probably overdue – one focused on the public information being communicated not who gets credit for it. The reality though is what we got instead was an attempt to appropriate Government communications for political purposes.

“What we are getting now is an attempt by the new Teflon Taoiseach to pass the buck.”