Fine Gael urged party activists to send in “tricky questions” for Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin when he took part in a radio phone-in on Newstalk last week.
Leaked WhatsApp messages published in the Sunday Business Post this morning show that the party’s digital team told dozens of staff and members to make sure it was not “obvious it was coming from us.”
The message to a Fine Gael WhatsApp group for the Local and European Elections said: “This is an important opportunity for us to get there with some tricky questions.”
They were sent at least eight suggested questions the party felt would cause difficulty for the Fianna Fáil leader.
The activists were warned against using emails with Fine Gael or young Fine Gael in them.
Deputy Martin answered questions from listeners for 20 minutes on Newstalk Breakfast on Friday.
None of the suggested questions were used in the interview.
On Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh this morning SBP Political Correspondent Hugh O’connell said that, while the practice is common, the Fine Gael attempt to influence the interview was particularly well organised.
“I have never seen an example of such a coordinated effort I suppose to get questions in by a political party,” he said.
“So in this instance I got hold of some WhatsApp messages that were sent to a group with dozens of Fine Gael activists and party members by the party’s digital team last week.”