Bord na gCon, which attended PAC last month, spent €47,000 on PR advice this year

 

Concerns have been raised that State agencies are using public money for media coaching before appearances at Oireachtas committees in a bid to avoid straight talking and to instead “manage the message”.

Questions were raised after figures revealed high spending on public relations (PR) advice and media training by agencies including Bord na gCon The Irish Greyhound Board and An Garda Síochána.

Bord na gCon has spent almost €50,000 on public relations advice in the first five months of this year, more than twice what it spent in the previous two years combined.

The semi-State agency, which has responsibility for the greyhound industry, attended last month before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to answer questions about its financial decisions.

They included the sale of it second Dublin track at Harold’s Cross, leading to a protracted dispute with greyhound owners and breeders.

The State-funded agency paid €47,831 for public relations (PR) advice up to the end of May this year, to Casey Communications, a Cork-based firm that specialises in strategic communications and crisis management. It was more than twice the €42,662 total it paid over the previous two years to a number of PR agencies.