Saturday 20 January 2018

Eoghan Harris: RTE News downplays SF debacle -- are we surprised?

Last Friday, the RTE News nine o'clock bulletin opened as follows: "Michael D Higgins will be the next President, Sinn Fein polls well, but Fine Gael disastrously." Only two-thirds of that sentence is true.

Far from polling well, Sinn Fein made no real ground in first preference votes, compared with the only other two markers that matter: the 2011 Dail vote and the 2009 aggregate MEP vote. McGuinness got 243,030 first preferences, only 22,369 better than Sinn Fein's 220,661 Dail vote and 17,417 more than Sinn Fein's MEP vote of 225,613.

Sticking to the Dail vote, we can see that Sinn Fein's celebrity candidate improved the party's performance by only 1 per cent. One per cent. So how do RTE News editors justify a ridiculous news headline saying "Sinn Fein polls well"?

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