Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of An Taoiseach

Departmental Advertising

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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2. To ask the Taoiseach the way in which his Department co-ordinated, organised, procured and financed the radio, television and newspaper advertisements relating to Covid-19. [5548/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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A whole-of-government communications response was mobilised in response to the COVID-19 emergency to formulate and implement a coordinated response that ensures maximum clarity for citizens, businesses and our wider community.

This aligns with both World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) advice, both of which emphasise the importance of ensuring the general public is aware of the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and further that a high degree of population understanding, community engagement and acceptance of the measures put in place are key in preventing further spread.

This advice also recommends the provision of easily accessible information such as signs and symptoms of COVID-19, contact details of local health services, the population groups at risk, self-isolation, social distancing measures and travel advice.

It is also recommended that communication strategies should target different audiences and provide the rationale behind the measures, also outlining the necessity to put a support system in place to provide essential services and supplies (e.g. food and medication), and to monitor vulnerable individuals.

The focus of the Government’s public awareness programme to date has been to invest in media to build mass awareness and understanding of Government information related to the COVID-19 emergency response as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Given the importance of the information, the detailed understanding that is required, and the speed at which the information needed to be deployed, the mediums of radio and press, have led the programme to date. These mediums are trusted as both news sources and fixtures of the Irish media landscape, and allow the dissemination of information in a detailed and effective manner to as wide an audience as possible. The press and radio programme has been augmented by a cross-Government coordinated programme on digital media.

Both national and local media have been deployed to get the balance right between main national news sources, which help to communicate information which is important to all of Ireland, and local news sources, which resonate particularly strongly with local communities.

The communications programmes run as part of the Covid 19 response include Community Call, Business Supports, Social Distancing in Public Spaces, Large Scale restrictions, publication of the Roadmap for Reopening of Society and Businessand measures being lifted during Phase 1 of the roadmap.

The advertising space is booked through existing contracts which were procured through the Office of Government Procurement (OGP).

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