Sinn Féin has litany of questions to answer over internal database containing voter information

Serbian Facebook Manager disappears from Vice-President Michelle O’Neill’s account

14th April 2021 - Senator John Cummins

Sinn Féin has a litany of questions to answer regarding information it is collating and storing on voters in an internal database and personal details it is also obtaining through Facebook, Fine Gael Senator John Cummins said.

Waterford Senator John Cummins has welcomed the development by the Data Protection Commissioner to seek answers from Sinn Féin about the party’s internal voter database – the Abú system.

Senator Cummins said: “We have learned this week Sinn Féin is storing the personal information of millions of voters who are listed on an internal party database, which contains peoples’ names, addresses and political views.

“This online database is registered to a domain hosted in the US and Sinn Féin are refusing to say where the servers are held. It has been reported that an internal Sinn Féin document showed the party scanned details of the electoral register with party officials then asked to update their database with local knowledge.

“In a training seminar, party members were encouraged to “elicit” information from people on Facebook to be cross-checked against its own database system to identify the home addresses of potential voters.

“Sinn Féin are accustomed to remaining silent on the party’s lack of transparency and finances, but this latest development is something the party cannot remain silent about as it could potentially deal with a serious data breach of voters’ personal information.

“The leadership of Sinn Féin must now reveal where this online database is stored and who exactly are the people being asked to elicit more information from social media users? What is their background?.

“Sinn Féin must also answer who developed the database and reveal how the party paid for this system.

“We know that the party’s Facebook accounts and many of their senior politicians are being managed by people based in Serbia and Germany.

“The latest development here is its Vice-President, Michelle O’Neill, has quietly dropped her Serbian connection – previously listed as a manager on her Facebook ad library since the revelation came to light recently. Why so?

“We also learned that a professional digital company has been contracted to work for Sinn Féin, while also providing consultancy to their fundraising wing in the United States, Friends of Sinn Féin (FOSF), which by law cannot contribute anything to Sinn Féin’s Irish operation.

“Is it the case now that the personal information of Irish voters is being managed and accessed by people in other jurisdictions, in the same way that the party’s social media accounts are being managed by a digital operation which spans across Serbia, the US, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom?

“Sinn Féin has so far failed to answer whether this business relationship is reflected in their SIPO returns, which I would ask them to clarify.

“I would also call on Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and party treasurer Pearse Doherty to provide a full account of the many questions that are now outstanding when it comes to the party’s use of social media,” Senator Cummins concluded.

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