I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 101, 102, 107, 108, 110, 112, 113, 115 to 119, inclusive, and 122 together.
An objective of the Government is to improve citizens’ understanding of what it is doing on their behalf, what their entitlements are, and the workings of Government in general.
In support of this objective, the Government has approved a list of policy areas for which citizen-focussed information campaigns will be run.
These campaigns are funded from the €5 million budget allocated to strategic communications.
As an overarching policy initiative, with significant reach, Project Ireland 2040 is the most important information campaign which will be run in 2018. Given the €116 billion taxpayer spend envisaged, the Government believes that it is essential that citizens understand how and where this investment will be made and how it will impact on their lives.
To this end, a comprehensive citizen awareness programme has been developed for the plan, with the goal of informing as many citizens as possible, creating awareness of the plan and enhancing citizen engagement with the detail in it relating to their lives. While the full spend will not be finalised until the end of the campaign, an indicative budget of €1.5m has been allocated from within the overall €5 million allocation. The cost for the launch event for the plan was approximately €45,000 ex vat.
This is a multi-faceted, year-long communications programme, co-ordinated by the Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) in my Department, which uses existing contracts (agency, media buying etc) and includes the following aspects:
- Comprehensive briefings from cross-Government Senior Officials
- Regional Launch Events
- Sectoral Forums
- County Forums
- Online communications programme
- Production of informational videos
- National and Regional Outdoor campaign
- National and Local Print Media - Content Partnerships
- Cinema Campaign
- Content Partnership with Regional and National Radio Stations.
No TV Advertising is included in this information programme.
In keeping with previous National Development Plans, Project Ireland 2040 is being communicated to citizens through media partnerships. Content partnerships have been established with the following media outlets:
- Irish Times
- INM Group
- Examiner Group
- Journal Media
- 30 Regional Newspapers
- 28 Local and National Radio Stations
The media buying process to enable this was handled by a third party media buying organization, appointed via an open procurement competition.
As with previous National Development Plans, all stories run under media partnerships are clearly identifiable as such.
Each media organisation was provided with a content pack relating to Project Ireland 2040. Any decisions relating to editorial style were entirely a matter for each organisation. The SCU had no input in selecting or contacting any external or third party interviewees. The SCU had no direct contact with regional media organizations.
In general, funding for campaigns will come from the Strategic Communications budget. In some cases, there will be a 50/50 split with the relevant Government Department, depending on the nature and scope of the campaign. As regards printing costs for Project Ireland 2040, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was responsible for the printing costs associated for the National Development Plan and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government was responsible for the costs associated with printing of the National Planning Framework.
Project Ireland 2040 was launched in Sligo IT on Friday February 16th 2018. Events of the day included a Government meeting to approve the plan, the actual launch of the plan and a number of media engagements carried out by myself and the Cabinet. My Department was responsible for all planning and arrangements for the day. This involved attendance by the following:
- 7 Cabinet Secretariat/Protocol staff to support the Cabinet meeting
- 9 SCU staff to support the launch
- 5 Officials/advisers with policy responsibility
- 5 Press Officers to support media engagements
As the launch is very recent, payments such as travel and subsistence and hotel accommodation have not yet been processed through our financial system.
In addition to the campaign for Project Ireland 2040 outlined above, the Strategic Communications Unit utilises all media in the course of the delivery of Government priority campaigns. The choice of media is informed by the nature, subject and reach of the campaign. As part of the Healthy Ireland Campaign, the SCU with their colleagues in the Department of Health, formed a media content partnership with a national daily newspaper to produce health supplements as part of the campaign. Similarly, the Unit worked with the Department of Education and Skills on a supplement in a national daily newspaper as part of the Action Plan for Education.
Costs for these media content partnerships are as follows:
€96,300 ex vat
Action Plan for Education
€8,600 ex vat
The Project Ireland 2040 campaign is ongoing and is subject to regular review. Therefore, the cost of media content partnerships is not yet finalised. It will be published once finalised.