Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now

Revealed: How Fine Gael wants its councillors to say the EXACT same thing

Template statements and press releases are often issued to local representatives.

Fine Gael councillors and candidates during last year's local elections
Fine Gael councillors and candidates during last year's local elections
Image: Mark Stedman/

FINE GAEL COUNCILLORS and election candidates are regularly given template statements with ready-made quotes praising the party’s work in government.

In what is a weekly practice from the party’s press office, template statements are sent to councillors and election hopefuls to fill in their name and constituency before distributing them to the media.

The latest template, seen by, concerns An Garda Síochána’s plan to crackdown on burglaries – Operation Thor – and is headlined: “New anti-burglary plan will send strong message to criminals in CONSTITUENCY- NAME.”

Fine Gael inadvertently alerted the media to the template statement when a text was sent to some political correspondents instead of councillors and election candidates earlier today.

The text read:

You have been emailed a template statement on Operation Thor which will see tougher sentences and stricter bail for repeat offenders. Please amend and issue.

Those Fine Gael representatives who use the statements are only required to fill in their constituency and name with all the quotes already written for them.

One quote in the Operation Thor template statement reads:

“Operation Thor will benefit from increased Government investment of €5 million,” NAME explained, adding: “While operational planning is a matter solely for the Garda Commissioner, this new operation delivers on increased investment in policing by this Government to tackle burglaries and related crime.”

The government has faced criticism for over-hyping the Operation Thor measure with critics pointing out the €5 million earmarked for the anti-burglary crackdown amounts to less than €30,000 per garda division over six months.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath told RTÉ yesterday that it should be renamed ‘Operation Spin and PR’.

Fine Gael councillors we contacted yesterday said they receive the templates on a regular basis, usually on a Monday.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

One said they often contain CSO figures, and departmental figures. They said the statements and information can be “very useful”. However, they added that they usually heavily edit the statements to localise them before distributing to the media.

Another described them as “syndicated statements” which are usually for local media consumption. They are often used by regional papers around the country, the councillor said.

A third councillor said they never use them.

Read: ‘What happened here is very clear’: Fine Gael backbenchers got an interesting Gardagate FAQ

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

Read next: