Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (142)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

142. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the expenditure by his Department on social media advertising and promotional material within the past year in tabular form. [34614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department engages in social media and online advertising where there is important information that needs to be brought to the attention of citizens.  Examples in this regard over the past year have included public information campaigns on the Online Passport Renewals Service and on the theme of ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’. Relevant details of expenditure are set out in Table 1 below.

My Department likewise uses promotional materials as means to help build awareness and inform citizens about important issues and/or particular events. These include Brexit-related and other public events held here in Ireland, engagement with school groups for educational purposes (e.g., on Ireland's international development policy) and outreach to foreign audiences by Ireland's Embassies and Consulates abroad. Relevant details of expenditure by my Department over the past year in this area are set out in Table 2 below. In the time available it has not proved possible to obtain a full breakdown of such expenditure as incurred directly by Embassies and Consulates.

Social Media and Online Advertising

In relation to Table 1 - Social Media and Online Advertising, the following considerations apply:

Government Brexit Update and ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’

Expenditure in this area has been undertaken to build awareness of the Government's Brexit Update email service and the ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ public information campaign which form part of the Government’s overall strategy to keep citizens fully informed and up to date on the implications and challenges of Brexit.

The Brexit Update email service is issuing on a regular basis via a commercial provider (MailChimp) and provides information on latest developments in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, on the latest available research publications and on engagement at Government level. It also highlights the range of business supports that are available through the various Government Departments and State agencies. This service has a global reach with 37.7% of the subscribers of this service coming from outside of Ireland.

The Government-wide ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ public information campaign is that which I and Ministers Humphreys and Creed launched together on 20 September.  This campaign has updated citizens, communities and businesses on an ongoing basis about Brexit preparedness and support measures that are available, as well as public workshop events as held over the past year.

Online Passport Renewals Service

In 2018 and 2019, my Department has concentrated on promoting the Online Passport Renewal Service as a fast and secure way for adults to renew their passports.  In Q4 2018, the service was expanded to include online renewal of children’s passports, a passport card for children and a wider cohort of adults eligible to renew online.  This expanded service means that all Irish citizens can now renew their passports online 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

Following on this expansion of the service, my Department ran a three-week public information campaign which included advertisements on social media platforms. The success of this campaign has led to a significant increase in online renewal applications in 2019.

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a unique opportunity to engage with the global Irish community and to promote Ireland’s economic and political interests overseas, with levels of publicity and media attention unmatched by the National Day of any other country.

This year’s programme had the largest number of countries ever visited for St. Patrick’s Day. The Taoiseach and I, along with 13 Ministers, 19 Ministers of State, the Attorney General, Ceann Comhairle and Cathaoirleach visited 56 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region.  These programmes allowed us to promote trade, investment and tourism with Ireland, to increase visibility in new markets, and to promote our values and our influence in global institutions, notably in support of our campaign to become a member of the United Nations Security Council.  It also allowed us to deepen our connections with Irish people and friends of Ireland all over the world. Overall, Team Ireland overseas delivered a total of 1,796 events in support of Ireland’s interest over the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day period.

To coincide with and complement these activities, expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to social media and online promotion of an accompanying St. Patrick’s Day video. In addition to Ireland, the video in question was also promoted in certain areas of the USA and continental Europe (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) to audiences with strong Irish diaspora connections and/or related potential disposition to Ireland as a tourism destination.

Global Ireland: Ireland’s Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025

‘Global Ireland’ is an all-of-Government programme which aims to double Ireland’s impact in the world by 2025. The programme was launched by the Taoiseach and myself and Ministers Humphreys, Madigan and McEntee in June 2018 and sets out Ireland’s ambitions in relation to how we trade, the bilateral and multilateral partnerships that we seek to build and our wider contribution to the world.

Global Ireland: Ireland's Strategy for the US and Canada 2019–2025 is Ireland's first whole-of-Government strategy for the US and Canada. Its aim is for Ireland to build strong, strategic political partnerships with the US and Canada and assume a lead role in building stronger transatlantic relations. To coincide with the programme of St. Patrick’s Day-related activities held there earlier this year, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to the online promotion of a video that outlined the Strategy’s key objectives insofar as the US is concerned.  In addition to Ireland, the video in question was promoted in the various areas of the US where Irish diplomatic missions are located – viz., Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. – so as to support and facilitate Ireland’s ongoing engagement with key audiences in each case.

Diaspora Policy

The ‘Global Ireland’ strategy commits my Department to introducing a new diaspora policy in 2020.  This new policy will guide Ireland’s engagement and relationship with our diaspora: our emigrants, our citizens abroad, those of Irish heritage and those who feel an affinity with Ireland around the world. A series of public consultations began in May 2019 in order to ensure that members of the public can be engaged in the process of developing Ireland’s new diaspora policy. A small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to promotion of these consultations via social media as outlined in Table 1 below.

‘A Better World’ International Development Policy and Simon Cumbers Media Fund

Ireland’s new international development policy ‘A Better World’ was launched in February 2019, following significant public consultations between July and September 2018. Both the launch of the policy and information about the public consultations were advertised on social media in order to engage members of the public with Ireland’s new international development policy.

The Simon Cumbers Media Fund promotes quality coverage of global development issues in the Irish media by supporting journalists to travel to the developing world to produce a report for print, broadcast and/or online channels. My Department’s support for the Fund enables media coverage that presents a balanced and realistic picture of the challenges facing communities in the developing world and of the progress that is being achieved. There are three funding rounds each year, including the annual student competition. These funding rounds are advertised on social media in order to ensure the information reaches a wide audience.

Ireland’s Campaign for Election to the UN Security Council

On 2 July 2018, the Taoiseach and I publicly launched Ireland’s campaign to secure a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in June 2020 for the 2021-2022 term. Ireland’s campaign is premised on three themes: Empathy, Partnership and Independence. My Department has since continued to promote public awareness of Ireland’s ongoing campaign through social media and online channels.

Table 1 - Social Media and Online Advertising

Amount

2018

 

UN Security Council Campaign (Jul '18)

€9,641.17

Global Ireland (Jul '18)

€5,837.80

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready (Oct-Nov '18)

€52,760.41

 

€68,239.38

2019

Online Passport Renewals (Jan '19)

€7,127.78

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready (Feb-Apr '19)

€108,787.64

St Patrick's Day / Global Ireland US-Canada Strategy (Mar '19)

€9,181.60

Simon Cumbers Media Fund & ‘A Better World’

€663.25

A New Diaspora Policy for Ireland

€777.03

 

€126,537.30

Promotional Materials

Table 2 - Promotional Materials relates to expenditure on information leaflets and certain low-value stationery and other branded items as distributed at ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’-related public information workshop events held over the past year, as well as at other events such as the National Ploughing Championships and the BT Young Scientists' Exhibition and in the context of Ireland's campaign for UN Security Council membership.

Such materials were also used in engaging with schools groups on Ireland’s new international development policy, ‘A Better World’, and in relation to Europe Day 2019, the Online Passport Renewals Service and my Department's TravelWise (consular support) mobile app. A further small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in support of pull-up banners for Embassies and Consulates abroad.

Table 2 - Promotional Materials

Amount

2018

 

Pull Up Banners

€2,100.97

GIBR Information Leaflets, Pull Up Banners, Tote Bags and Stationery

€16,421.73

Stationery & Branded Items

€18,523

UN Security Council Campaign Booklets and Branded Items

€38,879.34

TOTAL

€75,925.04

 

2019

Pull Up Banners

€4,484.82

GIBR Information Leaflets

€96,359.43

Stationery & Branded Items

€4,557.15

Online Passport Service Posters

€2,366.52

UN Security Council Campaign Booklets and Branded Items

€56,178.8

TOTAL

€163,946.72