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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Varadkar: Fianna Fáil in 'no position' to give lectures about propaganda

Update 2.55pm: Leo Varadkar has hit out at Fianna Fáil saying they are in no position to give lectures about propaganda.

A row erupted in the Dáil over ads the government has taken out promoting the Ireland 2040 plan in national and regional newspapers.

There have been allegations the Government told papers to make the ads look like part of regular news content and not sponsored items.

In the Dáil Taoiseach Leo Varadkar held up ads for the National Development Plan paid for by Fianna Fáil when they were in government.

Earlier: The taxpayer is footing the bill for State propaganda, according to Fianna Fáil.

The Government's Strategic Communications Unit has been called before an Oireachtas committee after questions were raised over advertorials placed in newspapers.

There have been reports that newspapers were told to make ads for the Ireland 2040 project look like part of the regular news cycle, and not paid-for content.

This is something the Taoiseach denied yesterday.

Mr Varadkar said: "There is no direction from my department, or from anyone within my department, to people or to editors to blur the lines between the news and an information campaign."

The Government also said in a statement they operated the ads through a third-party company, and the Strategic Communications Unit had no contact with individual titles.

However, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has made an official complaint to the advertising standards authority about it:

Ms Murphy said: "They are there to make sure that the unsuspecting person is covered, and that when somebody buys a newspaper, they know that when they are on a page, that it is a page full of news, and that they know when they are on a page that is full of advertising."

Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley says there needs to be more accountability for taxpayers money.

He said: "The abuse of taxpayers' money, which it is, is effectively the sale of State propaganda."

The Strategic Communications Unit say they had no final sign-off or editorial input into the ads, but the opposition say it has blurred the lines between real and fake news.