Reports from Leo Varadkar’s Strategic Communications Unit on visits to government PR teams in London and the Netherlands

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar’s €5 million communications unit was warned of the dangers of getting caught in a “parliamentary bubble” in a special briefing from the UK government’s premiere public relations guru.

Two senior members of the Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) visited London in September for a high-level briefing with senior personnel in Britain’s Government Communication Service.

A report on the visit, obtained under FOI, reveals key parts of the advice that will shape Mr Varadkar’s controversial PR operation.

Among the findings brought back from the meeting were that there was “audacity in simplicity” and that “citizen needs are more important than government needs”.

The trip was undertaken by John Concannon, the director of the SCU, and Andrea Pappin, another of the leading officials from the unit.

A separate report from the Strategic Communications Unit warned that communications teams across government could suffer “the five stages of grief” if told they had to revamp their websites, PR and branding.

The advice came after two senior officials from the unit travelled to The Hague to meet communication experts in the Dutch government last September.

A report on the visit explained how some people would need to go through an “emotional journey” to let go of longstanding logos, branding, and internet home pages.