AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA spent over €90,000 in just five months on media training for the service’s personnel.
The Garda hierarchy has engaged the services of the Dublin-based Communications Clinic, a media relations consultancy firm utilised by everyone from politicians to jobseekers, since September 2014, initially on an ad hoc basis.
Documents released to TheJournal.ie under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Communications Clinic was engaged by the gardaí in September 2015 to aid in the force’s media relations.
That contract was awarded after a public procurement process.
The initial dealings between the two entities saw €800 paid to the Communications Clinic in September 2014 for training of the then new Garda press officer.
That position became vacant following the transfer of whistleblower Superintendent David Taylor, who had been head of the Garda press office, to the Garda traffic division in June 2014 following allegations he had leaked information concerning a childcare matter to the media (Taylor was cleared by the Director of Public Prosecutions of any wrongdoing this month following a 22-month suspension in relation to the same matter).
Thereafter, far larger payments for services between the two began in December 2015, three months after the contract was awarded, with €10,400 paid in that month.
Between June and November 2016 €92,955 was paid to the Communications Clinic.
The contract for the media training programme won by the Communications Clinic was for a “media training programme for senior officers and managers (which) enables An Garda Síochána to provide more spokespeople to the media in order to keep the public informed about how An Garda Síochána prevents and tackles crime” a Garda spokesperson told TheJournal.ie.
The spokesperson added that over 100 such senior Garda personnel have received such training to date.
To date in 2017 €9,533 has been paid to the Communications Clinic by the gardaí, giving a grand total of €113,688 paid out for media training for the force in the past two-and-a-half years.
The PR firm headed by broadcaster and columnist Anton Savage has reported accumulated profits of more than €700,000 in accounts just filed to the Companies Office.
The Communications Clinic is co-owned by the former Today FM presenter and his parents, Terry Prone and Tom Savage.
Accounts filed to the Companies Office last week show that accumulated profits at the firm increased by 10% to €709,289 during the financial year to the end of March 2016.
It had a cash balance of €575,128 and was owed €400,912 by debtors of the firm, according to the accounts. A total of €284,100 remained payable to creditors – €135,715 of which related to taxation.
Savage and his parents all worked for Carr Communications before setting up the Communications Clinic in 2008. They each own around 26% of the company, amounting to almost 79% of its shares.
With reporting by Darragh McDonagh