Murphy says 'alleged' poll damages election prospects

Fine Gael candidate Marie Murphy has reacted angrily to a party opinion poll that cast doubt on her election prospects in Tipperary.

She claimed that if someone in the party in Tipperary commissioned the poll, then it will have to be declared as an election donation.

She added that she hoped her running mates in the constituency, Minister of State Tom Hayes, and Noel Coonan, would co-operate with any investigation held.

The Clogheen councillor was added to the Fine Gael ticket to meet the gender quota guidelines after outgoing TDs Hayes and Coonan were chosen at convention to make up the FG ticket.

Cllr Murphy said that recent controversy in the U.K. about the impact of inaccurate opinion polling on the 2015 General Election results illustrates the potential of political market research to distort the electoral process. She said this point was painfully reinforced for her last week by a report in Independent Newspapers concerning an alleged Fine Gael opinion poll in the Tipperary Dáil constituency that originated from a “senior Fine Gael” source.

“The analysis of this source was politically damaging to my election campaign”, she stated

She continued ‘ “However, Fine Gael HQ has informed me that no constituency opinion poll has been either commissioned or obtained by them in recent times.

“Indeed, it seems to make little sense for Fine Gael to support my addition as a party candidate and, work to undermine my chances subsequently.

“This newspaper report must also be considered against the context of the Electoral Acts.

“The use of an opinion poll by a General Election candidate amounts to a political donation and would have to be declared in an annual declaration to the Standards in Public Office Commission (S.I.P.O.).

“More importantly, the dissemination of the results of this survey during a General Election campaign would amount to an election expense.

“Furthermore, the cost attributed by S.I.P.O to the funding of a constituency opinion poll could have a significant impact on a candidate’s election spending limits.

“Exceeding these limits carries a heavy price tag”.

Cllr Murphy said that some people will remember that in 2002, Jim Mitchell, the late Fine Gael T.D., had to declare an opinion poll that had been conducted in connection with the leadership of the party as a political donation, from 20 supporters, following the investigation of a complaint by the Public Offices Commission.

“I have asked the Standards in Public Office Commission to investigate this serious matter further.

“While I know that they are completely immersed in their re-election campaigns, I hope that my fellow Fine Gael candidates will co-operate fully with this investigation”, she added.