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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Louise Burne

Sinn Féin asks for explanation for 200 communications staff members in Government departments

Sinn Féin has called on the Government to explain why there are nearly 200 members of staff employed in communication sections of Government departments.

Figures released to party leader Mary Lou McDonald show that there are 192 full-time staff members and one part-time employee working in communication units across 18 departments.

This does not include special advisers or press officers employed directly by any of the political party press offices.

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Ms McDonald asked each Minister the number of people working in their “Department’s press office, communications team and social media team”.

The figures released show that Heather Humphreys’ Department of Social Protection employs the highest number of communication staff.

The Department employs 21 people. This includes four people in the press office and one person who is the “head of communications”. There is also a “communications unit” within the Department.

“This unit comprises [of] four teams working on internal communication, external communication, design and content management,” Minister Humphreys said.

There are just under 14 people working in this unit. There are also two vacancies.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s department had the second-highest number of communications staff with 19.

The unit in the Department is known as “Government Information Services'' (GIS). This includes the Government Press Office and the MerrionStreet content team.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s Department of Enterprise has 15 full-time equivalent workers and one part-time equivalent work working across the press office, internal communications and campaigns & digital communications teams.

The Department of Finance has the fewest number of communications staff, with just four people working across the press office and communications team.

The Department of Further and Higher Education employs five people, while the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Rural and Community Development both employ six people in their communications department.

Sinn Féin’s public expenditure spokesperson Mairead Farrell branded the numbers “astonishing”.

She told the Irish Mirror: “The fact that almost 200 people are directly employed for such purposes will seem completely excessive for the vast majority of people.

“Clarity is needed as to what exact work these staff are expected to carry out and with the use of public funds in this way there is no doubt that clarity should be given.”


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