Interview by Clare Cullen
The General Election hashtag was #GE16 and over 380,000 tweets were sent using the hashtag over the last three weeks of the campaign. The tweets gained more than 158 impressions (total views) with ten million impressions occurring in the first 48 hours after Taoiseach Enda Kenny dissolved the Dáil and called the election.
The dissolution of the Dáil was announced via Twitter, via a tweet from Enda Kenny's official Twitter account.
The leader's debates pulled in almost 150,000 tweets total, with the the RTE PrimeTime debate pulling in over 67,000 and nabbing the coveted spot of 'most talked about TV event on Twitter' since the Late Late Toy Show in November. The biggest spikes in #GE16 conversation happened during these debates.
To celebrate the level of interest on Twitter in the election, Twitter have released a dedicated Irish emoji to accompany the hashtag #GE16.
According to data released to Independent.ie by Twitter, Fine Gael "dominated" the debate on Twitter during the campaign. Mentions of the party decreased after the first RTE #leadersdebate but the party's 'share of Twitter conversation' grew again towards the end.
Labour saw a spike in twitter conversation following the launch of their 'No Direction' ad campaign which sparked a Twitter spat between party and candidate accounts.
The Green Party beat out People before Profit and Renua for share of Twitter conversation during the first RTE leader's debate despite being absent from the debate. During the second RTE debate, the Green Party tied with the Social Democrats for the highest share of Twitter conversation for parties absent from the debate. However, throughout the campaign, the Social Democrats dominated the Twitter conversation amongst the smaller parties, beating Renua Ireland, People before Profit and the Green Party on a daily basis.
The top issue discussed on Twitter over the course of the campaign was Irish Water, followed by the economy and the healthcare system. Topic popularity was measured by the amount of mentions during the campaign period.
In contrast to the debates, the most-mentioned party on Twitter throughout the campaign was the Labour party, followed by Fine Gael and Sinn Fein. Fianna Fail and the Social Democrats round out the top five.
The most mentioned leaders remains the same with Enda Kenny leading, followed by Gerry Adams, Joan Burton and Michael Martin in that order. Lucinda Crieghton takes the fifth spot in the top five.
In the first televised debate, 45% of respondents to a Count Us In twitter poll voted Michael Martin the winner. However, during the second televised debate hosted by RTE's Claire Byrne, 46% voted journalist Byrne the winner of the debate for her strict style of moderation.
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