The Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD has described as ‘jaw-dropping’ reports today about the Taoiseach’s lead role in a planned major public relations campaign around Garda crime statistics.

The Kildare North TD was reacting to a report on RTÉ’s This Week programme that the Taoiseach last year suggested a PR campaign in relation to crime statistics and the good work done by gardaí.

Deputy Murphy said:

“That a Taoiseach who was only a month in office would try to instigate a good news PR campaign about how Gardaí were tackling crime shows once again the extent of Leo Varadkar’s total obsession with spin over substance.

“At the time when the Taoiseach was proposing this feel good campaign, the key issue of public importance was the fact that Garda crime statistics were so unreliable that the CSO said it could not stand over them.Given the real problems facing the gardaí, it’s jaw-dropping that the Taoiseach could get his priorities so wrong. The timing of this proposed campaign could have undermined both the work of the CSO and the Policing Authority which has expressed frustration with the slow pace of Garda efforts to review flaws in its statistics, particularly homicide figures.

“What is also deeply troubling is the fact that it wasn’t just a PR campaign that was being proposed. A week of heightened Garda activity was suggested to follow the PR campaign. That appears to be a very serious crossing of lines into Garda operational activities. What this shows us is the Taoiseach at the centre of a planned PR campaign that would have blurred the boundaries between politics, the civil service and the operations of the Garda Síochána itself.”

ENDS

18 March 2018