Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Timmy Dooley has said that the continued existence of the Government’s Strategic Communications Unit has the potential to damage public confidence in the media, and as such, it should be disbanded immediately.

“In order to preserve and protect the independence of Irish journalism, the SCU needs to be disbanded. It’s as simple as that. The blurring of the lines between Fine Gael and Government propaganda must end immediately.

“Leo’s vanity project should not be funded by the taxpayers of Ireland and without a doubt; he should not be preying on the financial difficulties in the Irish media industry to garner attention for his party’s election candidates.

“Last week, the media industry of all colours and stripes provided an excellent public service ensuring that people in weather-affected areas were aware of what was happening with the weather, local traffic disruptions, and all round good advice for people worried about the weather.

“Irish journalism has served our country without fear or favour since the foundation of the State. It has helped us mark important milestones in our nation’s history and it has acted as a backstop against malevolent behaviours and activities in Irish public life.

“However, Irish media is under severe financial pressure from online digital advertisers and they are under constant financial pressure. Fine Gael saw an opportunity, through the SCU and the Ireland 2040 project, to increase their presence and promotion in communities up and down the country.

“My party will, in the next week, launch new proposals to help revitalise the print media sector. Fianna Fáil has already published a paper on how to support the broadcast media sector. The work of Irish journalists last week demonstrated the absolute value and necessity of a strong, independent media,” concluded Dooley.