Taoiseach to spend €160k on reports assessing Government’s public image

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s department is to spend at least €160,000 assessing the image of the Government and to survey how it is communicating with the public.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

It comes amid recent opposition criticism that the Taoiseach is more about spin than substance.

Mr Varadkar came under fire yesterday for failures to tackle the housing crisis — despite promises and grand plans to build homes.

But now, the public’s perception of the Government and how it provides services will be researched as part of a series of reports.

The project will cost at least €130,000 according to estimates provided by the Department of Taoiseach, in a tender this week. Vat is paid on top of this. An advertisement says the aim is to examine the public’s perception of Government, its services and to undertake a “rolling tracker of attitudes” to government projects.

Mr Varadkar already has three communications sections employed by his department, including his press office, an information service, and his new strategic communications unit.

The tender for a report and follow-up assessment of government projects over the year explains: “Despite extensive government investment in communications, it can sometimes be difficult for the public to access the appropriate, up-to-date government information they require. There is a need for greater co-ordination and simplification of government communications, to make it easier for Irish people to understand what is happening, what government is doing and the full range of state services, both current and new, that are available.”

Last week, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin focused his pre-Dail conference speech on criticising the Taoiseach’s enthusiasm for what he deemed “spin”

He said: “There is a preponderance of staff involved in media announcements and spin. The Taoiseach saw no need to hire an expert on economics, or housing, or health but immediately appointed a marketing expert to his team.”

But Mr Varadkar used his Fine Gael think-in speech to reject claims about PR and defend his vision of a ‘Republic of Opportunity’, saying: “So when people mention style, I think of all that substance. The Republic of Opportunity is not a slogan or empty PR.”

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