Monday, May 08, 2006


Sinn Féin involved in electoral fraud?

Is he being sincere? I see the Sunday Tribune is reporting that Sinn Fein may be involved in electoral fraud if a senior Fianna Fail backbencher is to be believed.

Sean Ardagh (pictured left), Dublin South-Central TD and chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Justice Committee, has written to environment minister Dick Roche asking him to fully investigate a "major abuse of the register and voting in recent elections" at a named flat complex in his constituency.

The letter, sent in February, says that there were 131 people on the register in the complex at the time of the 2004 local elections who were not on the tenant records of Dublin City Council.

Ardagh also alleges that, at the time, there were three people on the register at a flat, occupied by a Sinn Fein figure, who were not on the council's tenant records.

Ardagh told Roche that he believed that this was "only the tip of the problem", adding that the problem "exists in major flat complexes throughout the city of Dublin".

Sinn Féin have hit back though with a Sinn Fein spokeswoman stating the allegations are "incorrect".

She said there was a problem with the electoral register and, at the time of the local elections, development work was going on at the flat complex in question, with people moving in and out. While Sinn Fein had done extensive work with community groups to encourage people to register and vote, nobody should be on the register who wasn't entitled to be, she added.

The Sinn Fein figure referred to in the letter yesterday accused Ardagh of engaging in "throwing mud" and "playing for publicity". He insisted there were just three people on the register at the flat he had lived in at the complex . . . himself, his brother and his mother . . . and that only he and his brother voted in the election.

Ardagh said this weekend that, while he was pointing the finger directly at Sinn Fein, he was not saying that "this is the most horrible thing" that had ever been done:

"A lot that has been done probably happened with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael at the genesis of those parties. It's a process that a party goes through, but they [Sinn Fein] have to understand that it's not the thing to do."

The allegations . . . which have been passed by Minister Roche to the franchise and tenant sections of Dublin City Council bring into the open an issue that many politicians have privately been complaining about.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny clearly referred to the issue in the Dail last week, asking the Taoiseach if he agreed "that one party represented in the House has been and is actively involved in wholesale fraudulent activity in regard to the electoral register?"

The Taoiseach mentioned a house in his constituency that had 80 people registered at the address. The comments prompted an angry response from Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain:

"I am quite sick, sore and tired of the continued slur against the party I am proud to represent by Aherns of any variety and the Kennys of this world who suggest that I and my colleagues are here by any other means than as a result of the democratic choice of our communities and constituencies."

Hmm. Seems like this is creating quite a stir in Leinster House. I don't really know what to make of this. I commented on the current electoral farce last Thursday and I laid the blame squarely at Fianna Fáil but could Sinn Féin be up to no good?

Or is this perhaps an effort by a Fianna Fáil TD to deflect blame away from his party and on to Sinn Féin? Is it merely a case of electioneering?

What say you?


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