Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt has called for an investigation into the fake polling company set up by Sinn Fein to gather evidence on voters in the Republic, and to establish if the same tactics were deployed in Northern Ireland.
Mike Nesbitt said:
“For any political party to be utilising a 77 page training manual, sending people round doors carrying fake IDs and posing as researchers from a polling company is certainly not ‘widespread and common’ as one Dublin Sinn Fein source has claimed.
“It is further evidence - not that any is really needed – as to just how far removed Sinn Fein are from normal political parties. If any other party in Northern Ireland or the Republic was going round the doors, passing themselves off as fake pollsters and seeking to get information off voters, then Sinn Fein would be leading the outcry. However, because they are the ones doing it, it suddenly becomes a case of ‘nothing to see here, please move along.’
“A 2015 election training manual instructed members to pretend to be from the non-existent Irish Market Research Agency (IMRA) and to ask people for their opinions on candidates and political issues.
“In a truly bizarre statement on The Pat Kenny show in Dublin on Wednesday morning, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said the party was unable to afford to hire a professional polling company at the time. ‘Informal polling by political parties – particularly larger parties – has been going on for years and when we started doing this back in 2010, we would have been a very small party with limited resources.’
“This is obviously complete and utter rubbish because in the 20 years between 1995 and 2014 Sinn Fein received $12 million from 15,000 donations received by Friends of Sinn Fein, the party’s American fundraising arm. I saw it with my own eyes as a broadcast journalist reporting on Gerry Adams in the USA. He was hosting a black tie $500 a plate reception in the Trump Plaza one minute and wooing the Irish Americans of the Bronx in an Aran sweater the next. Every single other political party on the island of Ireland would love to have such ‘limited resources’ as that.
“Given that this happened in the Republic, it is obviously a matter for the authorities there, but the question arises as to whether or not the same tactics were deployed in Northern Ireland. It’s a very reasonable question, and one that should be posed to Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill at the earliest opportunity.”