Fine Gael has come under for tweet warning people they could “let Sinn Féin in” if they didn’t get out and vote.
The post warning people that it was “vital” they voted for Fine Gael’s James Geoghegan was sent an hour before polls closed in the Dublin Bay South by-election.
It followed reports of a strong voter turnout in Sinn Féin strongholds like Pearse Street and Ringsend.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, Sinn Féin Cllr Pat Fitzgerald claimed the tweet was anti-working class.
It’s vital that you vote @GeogheganCllr to keep a Fine Gael seat in Dublin Bay South.
— Fine Gael (@FineGael) July 8, 2021
“I think everybody is entitled to vote and they are not entitled to be scrutinised by an opposing political party,” he said.
“That is if indeed they believed that those people that actually voted early were actually going to vote for Sinn Féin maybe not but to put up something like that is a throwback to another era when we didn’t have democracy.
“They have always discriminated against Sinn Féin voters and the working class really, Fine Gael, that wouldn’t be anything new would it really?”
Also on the show, Fine Gael Cllr Paddy McCartan said the tweet was just part of the cut and thrust of election politics.
“There are many facets to a by-election and you use every tool in the box you have to get out the vote,” he said.
“The intention of this was to maximise the Fine Gael vote which in effect, if we look at the figures, the FG vote did come out at the end of the day.”
He said the tweet was simply aimed at, “galvanising the support of those Fine Gael voters who hadn’t come out.”
“This is a by-election,” he said. “You do try to maximise your franchise and the perception was, in the beginning, as I said, that Sinn Féin were possibly going to win this seat.
“Then, when the opinion polls indicated otherwise, there was a slackening of interest amongst our supporters.
“We knew that Sinn Féin would perform better than their opinion poll rating and, as I said, we used every tool in the box to galvanise support.”
He noted that Sinn Féin is “well used to divvying it out” on social media – noting that the party regularly posts videos attacking other politicians.
Cllr Fitzgerald however, insisted last night’s tweet was different because it targeted civilians.
“This FG tweet attacked the public,” he said. “The actual voter. They are civilians in this.
“What we attack in the Dáil and on social media is people that are involved in the rough and tumble of politics. They are the soldiers of politics if you know what I mean.
“This tweet actually attacked the civilian population and that was totally out of order.”