The latest revelations of Sinn Féin’s social media management has left many serious questions which must be answered immediately, Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has said.
Senator Cummins said Sinn Féin have not been fully truthful about their online affairs this week regarding the party’s complex transnational digital set up which stretches across Serbia, the US, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
“Today, we learn a professional digital company headed by a former Facebook executive has been contracted to work for both Sinn Féin while also providing consultancy to their fundraising wing in the United States, Friends of Sinn Féin, which by law cannot contribute anything to Sinn Féin’s Irish operation.
“While other parties worked within the confines of rigid financing laws that we introduced, Sinn Fein has established a labyrinth of a social media management system which requires immediate examination.
“This is Sinn Féin’s social media output meets Ardoyne via Manhattan and the Balkans.
“We know the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) have already investigated aspects of Sinn Féin’s funding and financing and referred some of it the Electoral Commission of Northern Ireland.
“We need to lift the lid on this now and SIPO need to fully investigate this immediately with the full extent of their powers.
“On Monday, Sinn Féin said they ‘have two party supporters who occasionally help out our social media team’. Today, we learn it is a contracted private company managing their social media from Serbia.
“Why did Sinn Féin not admit this when first asked just days ago? Why did they describe them as supporters and not employees or contractors? Why not be truthful?
“Did Sinn Féin only formalise the relationship with this company since media queries came in this week? Is this business relationship reflected in their SIPO returns?
“Friends of Sinn Fein (FOSF) in the US have employed a top social media company as per their filed returns, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, for the period November 2019 to October 2020. However, the Facebook ad library tells us FOSF didn’t post a single advertisement on Facebook for that 12-month period. That’s pretty odd following a year of consultancy services.
“It is a legitimate question to ask; are Friends of Sinn Fein USA cross subsidising Sinn Féin work in this state and therefore circumventing SIPO rules?
“These are just some of the issues which Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and party treasurer Pearse Doherty have to account for,” Senator Cummins said.