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Sinn Féin refuses to send General Secretary to answer questions about secret Abú database

Online database cannot be used in Dublin Bay South bye-election

20th May 2021 - Fine Gael Press Office

The refusal by Sinn Féin to send their General Secretary to an Oireachtas meeting today to answer questions about their secret Abú database is a two fingered snub to democracy and the electorate.


The General Secretaries of all political parties or their deputies – bar Sinn Féin – attended a Local Government Committee meeting today on Electoral Reform.


In a farcical development, Sinn Féin sent committee member, Deputy Eoin O’Broin, to the hearing where he wanted to answer questions and then pose questions to the other general secretaries.


Fine Gael committee members, Deputy Emer Higgins and Senators Mary Seery Kearney and John Cummins said Deputy O’Broin did not answer questions regarding the Abú database and many issues are left outstanding.


The Fine Gael committee members said, “Deputy O’Broin could not answer how many people had access to the Abú database. Nor did he know the cost of developing it, yet he is sent in by the party to cover for their absent General Secretary.


“Deputy O’Broin refused to engage in the publication and content in the data processing impact assessment (DPIA), yet on April 22nd last, Deputy Mary Lou McDonald said they had completed the DPIA.


“Deputy O’Broin said they are still engaging with the DPC, so is it done or not? If it is complete clearly it is inadequate.


“Sinn Féin wants us to believe their training manual, which clearly instructs members to ‘elicit’ information online from voters, for their Abú system was never possible. This is not credible.


“Deputy O’Broin would have us believe that in Dublin Mid-West someone manually cross checks up to 74,000 voters with their voting status – after every election. So, in other constituencies like Roscommon-Galway someone manually cross checked 66,000 entries too?


“We do not believe that is credible, and want to know how many other constituencies have merged information between the electoral and marked registers in Abú, especially, if as the Deputy insists, Sinn Féin are doing this without the assistance of software or data scraping.


“Why are Sinn Féin asking Facebook users for their street address if they don’t incorporate this data into Abú? Online Facebook advertisements from Sinn Féin this year have specifically asked for home addresses,” the Fine Gael committee members said.With the upcoming Dubin Bay South bye-election, the three Fine Gael members also called on Sinn Féin not to deploy their secret database during the canvass and ballot. They called on every other party to support this call.


“Sinn Féin currently holds a database on every voter in the Dublin Bay South constituency, stored in Frankfurt, which is under investigation by our Data Protection Commission and UK authorities.


“It simply cannot be deployed or used in the upcoming bye-election.


“This is a democratic election and Deputy Mary Lou McDonald’s party have not been upfront in any capacity whatsoever regarding their use of this secret party resource.


“It emerged today it was used in four 2019 bye-elections and in last year’s General Election by Sinn Féin. None of the country’s 3.5 million voters were aware they were on this international database.


“Deputy Eoin O’Broin admitted their Abú system contains categories for recording ‘face-to-face’ interactions with voters and also an ‘other’ section for recording more information about voters.


“It also emerged Sinn Féin is keeping information on voters on Abú for a minimum of ten years (two electoral cycles). This is deeply disturbing and worrying.


“Sinn Féin’s Abú system simply cannot be used at the upcoming bye-election and Sinn Féin must provide that commitment.


“We are calling on every other party to join us in this and ask Sinn Féin not to use their Abú database in the upcoming bye-election,” the three Fine Gael committee members said.

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