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Sinn Féin probe Mary Lou McDonald admits Sinn Féin’s secret voter database was not in compliance with data protection laws


Mary Lou McDonald has admitted her party’s secret voter database was not in compliance with data protection laws.

The Sinn Féin leader conceded the party’s database had breached at least two data protection requirements.

Speaking on RTE’s Prime Time she said the party only appointed a data protection officer to oversee the personal data of millions of voters after they were contacted by the Data Protection Commissioner about their secret database.

She also admitted her party had not carried out a Data Protection Impact Assessments on the Abú system until they were asked to by the Data Protection Commissioner.

The assessments are required to mitigate against any risks from collecting personal information.

Despite insisting earlier in the day that her party was “fully compliant” with data protection legislation, Ms McDonald admitted she was forced to make the changes “by way of meeting what was a gap in the compliance identified”.

The Abú system contains the names, home addresses and Sinn Féin’s perceived voting intentions of around 3.5m Irish citizens.

Public bodies, including political parties that process personal information of citizens are legally required to appoint a data protection officer under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

The assigned member of staff must formally register as a data protection officer with the Data Protection Commissioner. A data protection officer must have qualifications for the role and are responsible for safeguarding information stores by public bodies. They are also responsible for informing people of their rights and handling complaints.

Sinn Féin only registered a party member for the role after they were asked to do so by the Data Protection Commissioner following revelations about the Abú system.

When asked by the Irish Independent why they did not have a data protection officer, Sinn Féin said: “We have had a data protection compliance officer in place for a number of years.”

However, speaking on RTE’s Prime Time, Ms McDonald admitted the party did not have a data protection officer.

Sinn Féin TDs and party leaders Mary Lou McDonald have continually insisted they were fully compliant with data protection legislation.

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