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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says his SCU will be wound down by July. PA Wire/PA Images
End of the road

Leo's controversial Strategic Communications Unit to be wound down within months

The Taoiseach told his Cabinet today the unit’s budget will be cut by 50% and the staff reduced.

THE GOVERNMENT’S STRATEGIC Communications Unit (SCU) will be wound down by July.

The Taoiseach informed his ministers of his decision at today’s Cabinet meeting.

The decision follows a review of the unit by the Secretary General of the Department of An Taoiseach, Martin Fraser.

Set up last year, the SCU was established to streamline government communications.

It exists in tandem with the current Government Information Service (GIS), employs 15 people and has a budget of €5 million.

In addition to the winding down of the body, the budget is to be cut by 50% and staff reduced. Going forward, the unit will also play no role in any major government campaigns. It is understood GIS will now take over any future promotion of government campaigns.

The unit came in for strong criticism in the last couple of months as a result of the fallout from a government advertising campaign around the Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework.

Questions were raised about how advertorials in newspapers were presented during the €1.5 million rollout of the plan.

The SCU headed up a sweeping strategy to promote the plan across traditional and online media.

The scandal resulted in opposition politicians calling for the unit to be disbanded. Last week, the government lost a vote in the Dáil calling for the unit, which has been dubbed the Taoiseach’s “spin unit”, to be shut down.

A total of 85 TDs voted in favour of the motion put forward by Sinn Féin. 49 voted to keep it.

‘A distraction’: Review will look at abolishing the Strategic Communications Unit>

Dáil votes to abolish Strategic Communications Unit>

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