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Thursday 23 February 2017

FG denies trying to manipulate 'Liveline' text poll

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

Fine Gael last night denied trying to manipulate a presidential election poll, which the party's candidate Gay Mitchell claims was doctored by Sinn Fein.

Mr Mitchell only came third in the text poll on RTE's 'Liveline' with Joe Duffy, which was won by Martin McGuinness.

The Fine Gael MEP subsequently dismissed the results, claiming Sinn Fein manipulated the text poll.

But his own party sent out messages to members and supporters before and during the show calling on them to vote for Mr Mitchell.

Fine Gael sent a message out half an hour before the show, alerting supporters to the topic being the presidency. The next text told them about the poll and the final text informed supporters of how to vote in the poll.

After losing, Mr Mitchell suggested that Sinn Fein rigged the results. "I'd say there's an automatic dialing machine somewhere," he said.

Fine Gael last night said the text was only sent to TDs, senators, MEPs, constituency offices and just 121 members on a mailing list.

The party often uses text messages to artificially generate public support. The party has contacted members telling them to send in "messages of support" when Taoiseach Enda Kenny or another senior party figures were doing a major interview.

Meanwhile, Mr McGuinness also topped a poll on a Cork radio station. The SF candidate took more than 60pc of the votes.

Irish Independent

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