Sinn Fein transferred millions of Irish voters’ personal data to London before moving the information to Germany after Brexit.
After refusing to answer questions about the location of their secret voter database for almost two weeks, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has finally revealed her party is storing the names, home addresses and perceived voting intentions of millions of Irish voters in Frankfurt, Germany.
Since details of the party’s Abu system emerged, a string of Sinn Fein TDs refused to reveal where they were storing the data. Cavan-Monaghan TD Matt Carthy even said he could not reveal where it was because it was an “IT related question”.
However, after being repeatedly questioned on Newstalk, Ms McDonald finally said she had “no problem” saying where the information is being held.
“It had been stored in London, but obviously Brexit happened and that distributed that so it is legally held and stored in the EU as per the law,” Ms McDonald said.
When asked why an Irish political party would not store the information in Ireland, McDonald told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, Ms McDonald said “that’s a technical question”.
“It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s held in the European Union – we would not be alone in making use of the services of people who are not in Ireland,” said Ms McDonald, but did not say which other parties are storing voter information in other countries.
“People shouldn’t imagine that this is shipped off in a crate to a different jurisdiction – it is electronically and technically held and stored safely. The information is for electoral purposes and only that.”
Ms McDonald added that the data is not being used for “commercial or inappropriate purposes”.
The Sinn Fein party leader revealed the delay in revealing the location was due to an investigation by the Data Protection Commission.
“The Data Commission wrote to us and asked us a range of questions which we have answered very comprehensively, and we are engaging with them,” she said.
“The Abu system is for the return of canvases - this is canvas material, it is used for canvassing, it is used for electoral purposes, all of which is legal and part of the process and not unique to Sinn Fein.
“All political parties use the register for canvassing, that’s standard procedure,” she added.
Ms McDonald repeatedly said the party’s Abu system was the Electoral Register and said it was not “crossing the line” to set up a national database of every voter in the country’s perceived voting intentions.
The Sinn Fein leader said all the other parties have similar systems. However, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael do not have national databases.
Ms McDonald said the Data Protection Commissioner may have more questions for Sinn Fein about this database but said she is “satisfied” that the party is “absolutely compliant”.