The Social Democrats will today make a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority to raise concerns that government advertorials about Ireland 2040 have breached the principles of the advertising code which calls for ads to be ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.

The party co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said:

“In an era when there is a very heightened awareness of fake news, it is vital that newspaper content that is sponsored and paid for by the government is clearly indicated as such so that there is no confusion in the readers’ mind.

“I will today make a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland to express my deepest concerns that the commercial features about the National Development Plan placed in national and regional newspapers in recent weeks are in breach of the ASAI’s code that sponsored content should be ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.

“The Taoiseach and his Ministers need to stop dismissing concerns about the use of government resources in this way. We need to know exactly what instructions were given to the Strategic Communications Unit. There are very many ethical problems with how this sponsored content has been managed.

“This includes the fact that media commentators were not told they were being interviewed for advertorials paid for by the state when they supplied quotes for newspaper articles about the plan. It appears that there may have been an attempt to manipulate readers of newspapers around the country into believing that this was genuine independent reportage.”

ENDS

26 February 2018