A former press officer with the influential employers' lobby group Ibec has claimed he was frequently asked to regurgitate "evidenceless" press statements about the potential cost to jobs of any initiatives or legislation it opposed.
In a scathing attack on the organisation, Brussels-based lobbyist Richard More O'Ferrall – who now works for the Greens/EFA group in the European parliament – also said he was surprised at the extent to which this "scare tactic" was repeated "word for word" by the media here.
More O'Ferrall cited Ibec's objections to attempts at EU level to introduce social or employment legislation as examples of the types of issues on which he was asked to release statements.
"In my time as a press officer with Ibec, anytime legislation was passed with which it did not agree, the mantra was put out that it would cost jobs. It would simply regurgitate the same arguments any time one of its major subscribers did not agree with it. It was such a scare tactic. And it worked perfectly," he told the Sunday Tribune.
"I work as a press officer in Brussels and I have to fight tooth and nail to get coverage as there is real competition for space. But when I was an Ibec press officer I would put out a press release and I would read it copied and pasted almost word for word in the press the next day."
More O'Ferrall first outlined his concerns in a letter published in the Irish Times two weeks ago. He said he was prompted to write over Ibec's approach to the climate change response bill, which has since failed to make it into law. Ibec had claimed the proposals contained in the bill would be "hugely damaging" to competitiveness and would drive manufacturing jobs out of the country.
However, More O'Ferrall said the proposed legislation was "of limited ambition, with huge concessions already made to placate the various lobby groups, but it seems the usual suspects are crying bloody murder in attempt to strip the bill of any meaning.
"Ibec is at it again, claiming the proposed climate legislation will cost jobs, without providing any evidence to back this up as usual. The truth is the opposite: this legislation should spur innovation and create jobs in the growing global green economy," he wrote.
A spokesman for Ibec said it did not wish to comment on More O'Ferrall's claims.