A Fine Gael Senator has called on Sinn Féin’s top figures to fully explain who is behind the party’s social media management.
Senator John Cummins is calling on Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and party treasurer Pearse Doherty TD to answer “serious questions” over Sinn Féin’s online platforms.
The party’s social media pages came under scrutiny this week when it emerged that Sinn Féin’s main account has been managed by people in Ireland, the UK, Germany and Serbia. German account managers have been linked with the pages for Donegal deputies Pearse Doherty and Padraig Mac Lochlainn, as well as many other Sinn Féin members.
Earlier this week Senator Cummins raised queries over why data from Sinn Féin’s Facebook ad library shows 26 out of 37 of its Dáil representatives have a German-based Facebook administrator.
He has asked for an immediate examination into the party’s “complex transnational digital set up” which stretches across multiple countries.
Senator Cummins said: “This is Sinn Féin’s social media output meets Ardoyne via Manhattan and the Balkans.
“We know the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) have already investigated aspects of Sinn Féin’s funding and financing and referred some of it the Electoral Commission of Northern Ireland.
“We need to lift the lid on this now and SIPO need to fully investigate this immediately with the full extent of their powers.”
On Monday, Sinn Féin said they have two party supporters who occasionally help out their social media team. The Irish Independent reports today that the pages are supported by ODV Digital, a digital consultancy business, run by a former Facebook manager. The company is based in both Stoneybatter in Dublin and Belgrade in Serbia.
Senator Commins is raising further questions over the relationship with this company.
“Friends of Sinn Fein (FOSF) in the US have employed a top social media company as per their filed returns, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, for the period November 2019 to October 2020. However, the Facebook ad library tells us FOSF didn’t post a single advertisement on Facebook for that 12-month period. That’s pretty odd following a year of consultancy services.
“It is a legitimate question to ask; are Friends of Sinn Fein USA cross subsidising Sinn Féin work in this state and therefore circumventing SIPO rules?
“These are just some of the issues which Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and party treasurer Pearse Doherty have to account for,” Senator Cummins said.