Taoiseach's €5m Strategic Communications Unit branded a 'dangerous development'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's €5 million Strategic Communications Unit has been branded a “dangerous development” which was politically driven, the Dail has heard

Taoiseach's €5m Strategic Communications Unit branded a 'dangerous development'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's €5 million Strategic Communications Unit has been branded a “dangerous development” which was politically driven, the Dail has heard, writes Political Editor Daniel McConnell.

Speaking at Leaders' Questions, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin raised how Mr Varadkar had communicated with him in recent weeks amid controversy about the new units establishment.

Mr Varadkar insisted that while it will have a budget of €5 million, it will be “cost neutral” as it will be met within existing resources within his own department.

Mr Martin probed Mr Varadkar as to how John Concannon came to head up the unit and it emerged Mr Varadkar approached him about the position.

However, he insisted that Mr Concannon was appointed by the Secretary General in the department and not by him.

Mr Martin rejected this saying: “You appointed him, this was entirely political.”

Mr Varadkar in response said Mr Martin was entitled to believe what he wanted adding he has been doing a great deal of spinning in recent days.

Labour's Jan O'Sullivan criticised yesterday's budget comparing it to “McCreevy” type economics, given the large reliance on commercial stamp duty as a revenue raiser.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly raised the issue of changes to the pensions of Aer Lingus workers calling on Mr Varadkar to intervene in the dispute.

She said that it was morally the right thing to do even if there was no legal basis to do so.

Mr Varadkar said he was willing to discuss the matter with Ms Daly and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and this was accepted.

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