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Taoiseach said he does not know if law broken by Fianna Fáil members posing as canvassers

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin have all said that party members posed as pollsters.

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Updated Thu 9:15 AM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said he does not know if the law was broken by Fianna Fáil canvassers posing as pollsters. 

Martin, speaking on Newstalk radio this morning, said that his party had used the practice before 2007 and that no personal data was kept on people. 

“The party members were used to supplement polling companies who oversaw polling exercises before 2007.

“Now, that was a wrong practice issue, in my view, looking back on it, it shouldn’t have happened. When you got to a door and you don’t say who you are, but that is not right. And it’s not proper,” he said

He later told reporters in Cherrywood that he never commissioned polls himself, and gave assurances that the no such polling has taken place in the last 14 years.

When asked about the Fianna Fáil press office issuing a statement over the weekend, that no such polling had ever taken place, Martin said that the statement was issued in “good faith and in error”.

Since he became party leader, his party has always used outside polling agencies, he said.

Yesterday Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said his party has “done something similar” after it was reported that Sinn Féin party members had pretended to be pollsters to conduct election surveys.

It was reported that Sinn Féin provided members with instructions on how to present as pollsters in order to conduct election surveys as part of a 2015 “election toolkit”.  

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin defended what he termed “informal polling”, saying it was “widespread and common practice”. 

It has emerged this morning that the Green Party were engaged in similar practices. 

The Taoiseach, this morning, said that no fake identity badges were used by his parties pollsters. 

“My understanding, from what I’ve learned from party headquarters, that there wouldn’t have been fake IDs or anything like that but that the party members were used with polling companies at the time, in terms of a lot of polling that was done prior to 2007,” he said. 

The Taoiseach said that the practice has been discontinued and that only professional polling companies are used now by Fianna Fáil.

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“I don’t know if it broke the law, no data was record, I’ve been assured no personal data in relation to the people at the door, you know, was taken or recorded,” he added.

In a statement the Green Party confirmed they had also used the practice but that it was discontinued. 

“When we initially asked around internally yesterday it appeared that no-one in the party had ever engaged in using volunteers to carry out polling using a false company name.

“However, it later emerged that there may have been some isolated incidences of this taking place in some constituencies over a decade ago. To be clear, this is not something that the present day party approves of or would ever engage in,” the statement said. 

The Data Protection Commissioner has confirmed it has written to Sinn Féin about the practice. 

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