€22,000 spend on social media videos by Taoiseach department

Leo Varadkar says more social media ‘key part of Government media modernisation’

In the run-up to the budget the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe appeared on a number of social media videos.

In the run-up to the budget the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe appeared on a number of social media videos.

 

Leo Varadkar’s department has spent just under €22,000 on advertising on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook since he became leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach.

He said the money spent in the past six months went on videos for Ireland’s Rugby World Cup bid, on information about going back to school, on the budget and treatment benefits. He said it cost €21,895.

Mr Varadkar in a written parliamentary reply reaffirmed his enthusiasm for the virtual world. “A key part of the modernisation of Government communications is the greater use of social media,” he told Fianna Fáil jobs, enterprise and innovation spokesman Niall Collins.

Mr Collins had asked the Taoiseach the amount of money allocated to sponsoring advertisements including his Twitter account “Campaign for Leo” (@campaignforleo) which has 107,000 followers and on which he has posted some 3,700 tweets.

In the run-up to the budget the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe appeared on a number of social media videos.

Obfuscation

Mr Collins accused the Taoiseach of obfuscation and said he failed to be transparent in listing the costs.

“He didn’t tell us what spend was” in each area for each advertising medium. “More questions will have to be asked,” Mr Collins said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who has persistently criticised and raised questions in the Dáil about the Taoiseach’s strategic communications unit, also asked Mr Varadkar in a written parliamentary question to “report on sponsored media advertisements on social media sites run by his department and the way in which they are co-ordinated”.

News website

He echoed comments he had made to Mr Collins about where the media advertising went and added that the Government’s news website, Merrionstreet.ie, “has a presence on a number of social media platforms”.

Mr Varadkar also said that “as part of the strategic communication unit, the work of Merrionstreet.ie is to simplify Government communications and to increase efficiencies across the public sector”.

It emerged last week in media reports under freedom of information legislation that the strategic communications unit was allocated an additional €900,000 for salaries in addition to the €5 million in funding announced in the budget.