Micheál Martin: Taoiseach seems to be more concerned with PR than action

Leo Varadkar has faced controversy over his new 'strategic communications unit'

Micheál Martin: Taoiseach seems to be more concerned with PR than action

Micheál Martin. Image: RollingNews.ie

Fianna Fáil leader Michaél Martin has said he's concerned that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar appears to be more concerned with image & communications than the other issues facing the country.

The comments come as the Government works to set up a new 'strategic communications unit', which will be run by marketing expert John Concannon.

The Taoiseach has insisted the new agency "will not be political", and will "complement, not replace" the existing ways that State departments and agencies deal with press, media and communications.

Deputy Martin spoke to High Noon about the new unit, suggesting the Government is 'detached' from the reality on the streets.

He told George: "We have some very substantial issues at the moment in terms of the country - the most critical one being housing & homelessness. It's a real crisis, and the Government has failed to get to grips with it over the last number of years.

"It concerns me that the Taoiseach seems to think that communications is number one - homelessness and housing is number one; health issues are number one, and access to the health services."

"A terrible detachment"

The Fianna Fáil leader does not believe the new communications unit is needed given the existing structures in place.

He also suggested that the move to set up the new unit implies that the problem is communication rather than action.

He argued: "In terms of that detachment from reality of the crisis on our streets in terms of housing... there is a terrible detachment, and the sense that communications can cover over or hide the reality."

"Image will only take you so far, but there simply has to be delivery on the ground."

Deputy Martin observed that he himself prefers an 'on the ground' approach to communications & presentation, saying he focuses on being 'on the streets and knocking on doors'.

He noted: "I think that gives me a fare more solid and better grounding in terms of preparing the pathway to go back into Government, and start dealing in a concrete way with the daily harsh realities of many people's lives in this country.

"I'm certainly not going to do a PR makeover to try and sort of suggest to people that I'm something other than I am."