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'shocked and disturbed' Former FG TD contacts gardaí over fake text urging voters to support Labour candidate

'I have become aware in the last hour of a fake message circulating to people, alleging to be from me, or from someone to do with me,' Kate O'Connell said last night

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Former TD Kate O'Connell. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Former TD Kate O'Connell. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Former TD Kate O'Connell. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Former Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell is contacting gardaí over a fake text message urging voters to support to Labour Party's Ivana Bacik in today's Dublin Bay South by-election.

On the eve of the election, a message purporting to be from Ms O'Connell was sent to Fine Gael members asking them to give Ms Bacik their number one vote.

The high-profile former TD said she was "shocked and disturbed" by the message.

"I have become aware in the last hour of a fake message circulating to people, alleging to be from me, or from someone to do with me," she said last night.

"Whoever is behind it is clearly acting out of desperation. I will be contacting the gardaí," she added.

The message was sent to Fine Gael members in Dublin Bay South hours before polling was due to begin this morning.

Fine Gael's candidate James Geoghegan was not mentioned in the fake message.

"Dear member of Fine Gael in DBS and neighbouring areas, and supporters and friend of Kate O'Connell, please encourage your families and friends in DBS to give their NO.1 Vote to Ivana Bacik tomorrow and to continue their preferences for Claire Byrne, Deirdre Conroy, Sarah Durcan and Lynn Boylan," the fake message said.

"DBS needs a vibrant female voice who is an ally of Repeal, who will protect our hard won right, and who will stand with us on the ownership of the National Maternity Hospital and other issues.

"Women have been badly neglected during Covid, and deserve better than a contribution of the male, stale, conservative representation we have since the last election," the message added.

Ms O'Connell did not put her name forward to run in the by-election as she did not believe she had the support of Fine Gael leader and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Meanwhile political parties are planning major "get out the vote" campaigns over fears of a low turnout.

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Swarms of volunteers from Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and the Labour Party will be calling to homes, encouraging voters to go to polling centres.

Fine Gael is seeking to replicate Sinn Féin's successful get-out-the-vote strategy in recent elections and will be offering voters lifts to polling stations.

In an email to members last night, Fine Gael's director of elections Simon Harris said the party will be "meeting voters, dropping leaflets right up to the close of the polls at 10.30pm".

The Labour Party is planning a similar strategy, with certain areas of the constituency earmarked as having a strong support base.

Sinn Féin developed a get-out-the-vote strategy in tandem with its internal voter database, the Abú system.

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Hopeful James Geoghegan

Hopeful James Geoghegan

Hopeful James Geoghegan

 

The party's Eoin Ó Broin would not say last night if the Abú system is being used as part of the party's strategy on election day.

Its candidate is Senator Lynn Boylan, Fine Gael is running James Geoghegan, the Labour Party is represented by Senator Ivana Bacik, and the Green Party by Claire Byrne.

The Social Democrats candidate is Sarah Durcan, Aontú is running Mairéad Tóibín and People Before Profit is represented by Brigid Purcell.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil senators Malcolm Byrne and Fiona O'Loughlin apologised for comments made at a press conference two days before polling, downplaying party candidate Deirdre Conroy's chances.

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