Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald is facing calls to go before the Dáil and address revelations about her party’s secret voter database and use of social media to identify voters.
Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said he is “hugely concerned” about Sinn Féin’s Abú system, which he said raises “serious issues about the integrity of our electoral system”.
“I do think it behoves a proper response from Sinn Féin on how this database has come about, what type of information is on it and how many thousands or millions of people’s information is on it,” Mr O’Brien told the Sunday Independent. “Mary Lou McDonald should answer questions in the Dáil on it,” he added.
The Fianna Fáil minister said he would also be asking the chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Local Government, Steven Matthews, to extend the current legislative debate on the Electoral Reform Bill so issues relating to Sinn Féin can be discussed.
Mr O’Brien also said he would be writing to the Data Protection Commissioner to ask whether additional legislation is needed to protect personal information on the electoral register and online.
“I have always had concerns about how Sinn Féin operate in the shadows and now some of those shadowy dealings have come to light and they have got to address it,” Mr O’Brien said.
Minister of State for Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, said he would also be asking the Oireachtas Committee to consider including a session on “the ethical use of the electoral register”.
“I would hope that, over time, the electoral commission will be given additional roles and funding to promote greater transparency and accountability within our electoral system,” the Green Party minister said.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has written to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) asking for a “full investigation” into Sinn Féin’s Abú system.
Mr Cummins asked Sipo to examine a series of issues which the Data Protection Commissioner will not be asking about the Abú system. This includes establishing who developed the system, where it is based, and how the party paid for it. The senator has also asked the ethics watchdog to investigate Sinn Féin’s link to Serbia. Sipo did not get back to Mr Cummins or respond to requests for comment.
It comes as a former Sinn Féin councillor and member of the party’s influential Ard Comhairle, Séadhna Logan, insisted voters “waive rights” when they put their personal information on social media.
“Any personal information visible on social media is done so knowingly by the content owner at their own discretion,” he said on Twitter.
“The issue of SF or indeed anyone using FB (Facebook) for data will be interesting on the basis that when you sign up to social media you waive rights on a lot of your data; what you put on your social media is there to be shared,” he added.