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Nearly 85 per cent of TDs now on Twitter

Research has shown that 139 of the 166 members of the Dáil operate a Twitter account.

The Taoiseach's Twitter page has not been updated since 8 July 2011 yet he has more followers than any other TD.
The Taoiseach's Twitter page has not been updated since 8 July 2011 yet he has more followers than any other TD.
Image: Twitter

EIGHTY-FOUR PER cent of TDs now have Twitter accounts with the number having more than doubled over the past 15 months, according to research carried out recently.

Whereas just 39 per cent of TDs in the 30th Dáil had Twitter accounts when research was carried out in October 2010 now 84 per cent of the 31st Dáil have Twitter accounts, according to the research by PR firm Murray Consultants.

This means that 139 of the 166 members of the current Dáil operate a Twitter account.

The microblogging service has played an increasingly high-profile role in Irish politics with the controversy over a fake Sinn Féin tweet during the presidential election being the most notable event to date.

This week, a Labour senator was forced to apologise after he tweeted insulting remarks at users following the controversy over  inaccurate annewspaper article about a Polish woman’s life on the dole in Ireland.

The research has found  that of the major political parties Fine Gael has the highest percentage of TDs on Twitter (93 per cent) with Taoiseach Enda Kenny leading the way with over 10,700 followers – the most of any TD. This is despite his account not having sent out a tweet since July 2011.

More active is Fine Gael deputy Alan Farrell who has posted nearly 9,000 tweets – the most of any TD. Other TDs who are particularly active are Fine Gael deputies Paschal Donohue and Jerry Buttimer as well as the Labour Party’s Aodhán O’Riordáin.

The Labour Party has 82 per cent of its TDs on Twitter followed by Sinn Féin’s deputies on 64 per cent.  Fifty-eight per cent of Fianna Fail TDs have Twitter accounts while 89 per cent of Independent TDs and the smaller parties are on Twitter.

Kenny may be top of the pile when it comes to followers but he is closely followed by Socialist Party Leader Joe Higgins with over 10,600 followers. His account is updated regularly but from an automatic feed from his website.

In third and fourth place are Independent Shane Ross and Labour’s Joan Burton – whose accounts have been inactive since last summer.

This would indicate that inactivity is not a barrier to accruing followers. For example, Labour Party TD and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has never posted a single tweet, yet he has 2,473 followers.

Commenting on the research, Mark Brennock, Director of Public Affairs at Murray Consultants said: “This research shows that TDs in the current Dáil are more engaged and active on Twitter.

“Many politicians today have seen the benefits of using Twitter effectively such as posting links to articles, press releases, news clips and Dáil speeches.”

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Hugh O'Connell

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