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NTMA paid PR company €630,000 to "keep taxpayers in the dark"

NAMA and NTMA paid more than €630,000 to one media relations company since 2010

Ray Gordon (centre) briefs NAMA chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh
Ray Gordon (centre) briefs NAMA chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh
Image: Photocall Ireland

A PUBLIC RELATIONS company was paid more than €630,000 over three years to provide communication services for two of the State’s most secretive agencies.

Figures released by the Department of Finance show Ray Gordon MRM was paid €223,723 last year by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA).

The communications spending by two State agencies, which are not open to scrutiny under  the Freedom of Information Act, was heavily criticised by Sinn Fein’s Peadar Toibin.

“It is astounding that the NTMA has been responsible for paying over €200,000 per year to a public relations firms to answer press queries,” he told TheJournal.ie.

He added: ” This would equate to a full time press office with five press officers.

At a time of need and cut backs the NTMA appears to been squandering money on a service and that could and should have been delivered in a more cost effective fashion.”

This cost includes public relations services to NAMA, a body that in in the main refuses to communicate and has been sheltered by the government from public scrutiny.

Significant amounts of taxpayer’s money is being spent to keep taxpayers in the dark at a time when transparency and accountability in the spending of public money is of paramount importance.

In 2010, the taxpayer forked out €207,255 for NTMA media relations, while in 2011 Mr Gordon’s company was paid €223,723.

In response to a parliamentary question from Mr Toibin, Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed the State agreed a 20 per cent reduction in the company’s hourly rate which came into effect in June 2011.

H0wever, the public relations company’s bill increased by almost €20,000 the following year.

Gordon MRM payments:

  • 2010: €207,255
  • 2011: €205,388 (€142,653 from NAMA )
  • 2012: €223,723 (€142,653 from NAMA)
  • To February 2013 : €24,488  (€12,000 from NAMA)

The communications contract was put out for tender last year and following submissions from five parties, Mr Gordon’s company was selected to continue providing the service.

Minister Noonan said: “The new contract, which commenced in January 2013, is based on a fixed fee and it is anticipated that this will result in a significant reduction in the overall fees paid by the NTMA.

The NTMA also paid €230,089 to London based media consultants Powerscout for “international communications initiatives in the fund and debt management area”.

Mr Gordon said he did not think it would be appropriate for him to comment on payments his company received.

Read: Three NTMA staff earning over €200k won’t take pay cut this year >

Read: NAMA costs in environmental information court case total €71,350 >

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