A Dublin-based PR firm has received over €800,000 (including Vat) in fees in little over three years from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
According to figures provided by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, the NTMA has paid over €1m to two PR firms since the start of 2010.
In a written response to a Dáil question by Peadar Tóibín (SF), Mr Noonan confirmed that Dublin firm Gordon MRM has received €804,597 (including Vat) since the start of 2010 to the end of February this year.
Mr Noonan also confirmed that a London-based PR firm, Powerscourt, has received €257,089 (ex-Vat) between 2010 and to the end of February.
Yesterday, Mr Tóibín described the fees paid to the firms as “astounding”.
According to Mr Noonan, Powerscourt was hired by the NTMA in light of the sovereign debt crisis to provide international communications initiatives.
Gordon MRM — headed by MD Ray Gordon — secured the NTMA PR contract in 2010 and recently beat off bids from four competitors to secure its renewal from January for three years.
Mr Noonan confirmed the new contract “is based on a fixed fee and it is anticipated that this will result in a significant reduction in the o
Mr Noonan said the original contract was based on an hourly rate for services provided. He said: “During the term of this contract, a 20% reduction in the hourly rate was agreed with effect from Jun 2011 until the end of the contract.”
Underlining the reduction in fees secured by the NTMA, Gordon MRM was paid €32,872 to the end of February this year and, on a pro-rata basis over one year, its fees would total €197,232.
The fees paid to Powerscourt totalled €160,334 in 2010; €74,395 in 2011; €10,257 in 2012 and €12,103 to date this year.
The NTMA does not maintain its own internal press office. Its internal communications resources are supported by Gordon MRM. The firm provides PR services across all of the NTMA’s business areas; the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), the National Pension Reserve Fund; the National Development Finance Agency, the State Claims Agency, NewERA and during 2010, the banking unit. Mr Noonan confirmed that PR work for Nama accounts for the largest proportion of the contract.
In 2011, the work attributable to Nama accounted for €135,947 or 54% of NTMA PR fees, with NAMA accounting for €175,463 or 64% of the NTMA PR work in 2012.
Gordon MRM was established in early 2009. Other clients include Irish Life, the Irish Stock Exchange, permanent tsb group holdings plc and Topaz.
Mr Tóibín said: “It is astounding that the NTMA has been responsible for paying over €200,000 per year to public relations firms to answer press queries. This would equate to a full-time press office with five press officers.”
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