Ireland’s Sinn Féin invented phony polling firm
DUBLIN – Ireland’s main opposition party, Sinn Féin, invented a fake polling company as a guise for quizzing people door to door about their voting intentions.
The effort, exposed Wednesday by the Irish Independent, builds on that newspaper’s revelations that Sinn Féin maintains a GDPR-flouting database on servers in Germany containing Irish voters’ political preferences and aggregating these with their social media postings. Sinn Féin responded to disclosure of that database by changing its address, taking it offline and hiring a data protection officer.
Sinn Féin said Wednesday that its use of a phony firm name and accompanying IDs has been discontinued. The party declined to say when this happened.
The Irish Independent published details of Sinn Féin’s 77-page internal instruction manual for canvassers in the run-up to Ireland’s 2016 election, when Sinn Féin grew its support but still finished behind Ireland’s traditionally dominant parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Sinn Féin went on to win the popular vote in 2020, but the other two parties formed a coalition for the first time to keep Sinn Féin out of power.
The manual provides canvassers with fake IDs identifying themselves as officials from a fictitious firm, Irish Market Research Agency (IMRA). That appears to be an inside joke pointing to Sinn Féin’s links with the outlawed Provisional IRA, which killed more than 1,700 people before declaring a 1997 cease-fire.
IMRA can be read as “I’m Ra,” and “Ra” is street slang for the IRA.
A Sinn Féin lawmaker, Eoin Ó Broin, denied the party had done anything unethical by sending out activists with instructions to pretend they were representatives of a make-believe organization. “I don’t accept it is deception. It is part of our political climate,” he told Irish radio station Newstalk.
Ó Broin said Sinn Féin had used the fake corporate veneer because it could not afford to hire professional pollsters at the time.
Other parties called that claim preposterous, given that Sinn Féin is the only party on the island with an overseas fundraising arm, U.S.-based Friends of Sinn Féin Inc. Legally required disclosures consistently rate Sinn Féin as the wealthiest party, not one of the poorest.
Fianna Fáil lawmaker Marc MacSharry called on police to investigate Sinn Féin for “training personnel how to lie [and] providing them with fake official documents.”