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FG's James Geoghegan surveyed voters door-to-door for Renua but 'nobody asked' who he was with

Geoghegan said that he knocked to “maybe 50 people” ahead of the 2016 general election.

Geoghegan is flanked by two Fine Gael ministers at the RDS this morning.
Geoghegan is flanked by two Fine Gael ministers at the RDS this morning.
Image: The Journal

FINE GAEL BY-ELECTION candidate James Geoghegan has said that he engaged in door-to-door polling on behalf of Renua in 2016 but that “nobody asked” who he was representing.

Geoghegan is running for Fine Gael in the Dublin Bay South by-election but previously worked for Lucinda Creighton, a former Fine Gael TD for the area who left the party to form Renua.

Geoghegan has previously stated that he “re-engaged with Fine Gael” after Creighton lost her seat in the 2016 general election.

Creighton essentially lost her seat to Kate O’Connell, who was elected for Fine Gael alongside party colleague Eoghan Murphy, the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan and Jim O’Callaghan of Fianna Fáil. 

Speaking to reporters today, Geoghegan acknowledged that he had polled door-to-door ahead of that election and did not represent himself as being a Renua official.

“So in the 2016 general election for Lucinda I carried out a poll as a volunteer, it proved pretty accurate, she was up against it,” he said. 

We would have carried out a poll as volunteers, we would have knocked at the doors, it was just a head to head poll about the standing in the race. You ask people, nobody ever asked me personally when I did it who are you representing, if anyone had asked I would not have misrepresented my position but nobody ever asked. 

Geoghegan said that he knocked to “maybe 50 people” and said he was “polling for this constituency in the upcoming election”. 

Geoghegan’s admission comes after Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and the Green Party all acknowledged now that they previously engaged in the practice of carrying out surveys for candidates without being open about their motivations. 

Speaking alongside Geoghegan this morning, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that people in his constituency would previously have surveyed people without saying they were from Fine Gael.

He said he personally hadn’t participated in the practice but that “I don’t think it would have been uncommon.”

There would have been people doing survey work in the constituency and not saying they were Fine Gael. That shouldn’t have happened. I think it’s important that people put their hands up and say that it shouldn’t have happened. It doesn’t happen anymore, polling is now done by professional polling agencies and organisations. 

Coveney said that the practice hasn’t been carried out in his party in the past “six or seven years” and it was discontinued because “it became clear it wasn’t the professional way to do things”. 

“The approach towards data protection issues now is very different to what it was 10 years ago. And politics in terms of knocking on doors and trying to understand how your constituents were feeling the survey work around that, it was a lot looser then than it is now.”

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Speaking at the same event in the RDS, Junior Minister Hildegarde Naughton said that she personally wasn’t told about results of such polling done in her constituency and didn’t personally engage in it either.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this morning that his Fianna Fáil party had used the practice before 2007 and that no personal data was kept on people. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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