Green Party admits ‘isolated incidents’ of polling using false company name

Political parties will have to reveal to the Data Protection Commissioner if they are processing personal data gathered during polling
Green Party admits ‘isolated incidents’ of polling using false company name

The Green Party has said there may have been “isolated incidents” where it used party volunteers to carry out polling using a false company name.

It comes after Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil said party activists posed as market researchers to conduct polling, and Fine Gael said it had done something “similar”.

A Green Party spokesman told The Irish Times: “When we initially asked around internally yesterday it appeared that no-one in the party had ever engaged in using volunteers to carry out polling using a false company name.

“However, it later emerged that there may have been some isolated incidences of this taking place in some constituencies over a decade ago.”

“To be clear, this is not something that the present day party approves of or would ever engage in,” the spokesman said. On Wednesday the party said it had never engaged in such practices.

Political parties will have to reveal to the Data Protection Commissioner if they are processing personal data gathered during polling, where practices such as party activists posing as pollsters may have been used.

The DPC is already conducting a wide-ranging audit of parties’ treatment of personal data, with the watchdog indicating on Wednesday that each party should identify whether personal data was gathered during the polling and, if so, what was done with it.

Irish Market Research Agency

Sinn Féin’s actions were first revealed in an article in Wednesday’s Irish Independent, which detailed how party activists were issued with ID badges bearing the name of a non-existent market research company, Irish Market Research Agency.

Sinn Féin activists posed as pollsters when engaging with voters in 2015. Fianna Fáil confirmed party members had also done so, prior to 2007, while Leo Varadkar said Fine Gael had engaged in “similar” practices before 2016.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast on Thursday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the practice should not have happened. He added he did not know if any law had been broken by doing so, but no personal data had been taken or recorded and no fake IDs had been used by their party activists he said.

A spokesman for the Labour Party said it has not engaged in similar activity and “our head office wouldn’t sanction such an approach”.

A spokeswoman for the Social Democrats said it has “never engaged in posing as independent market researchers or opinion poll companies to survey voters”.

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