[Sinn Fein]

5ú Iúil 2001

Ó Caoláin to oppose opinion poll ban

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has signalled his intention to oppose the proposed ban on opinion polls in the ten days before an election. He described it as a ``sweeping measure'' which ``infringes freedom of information''.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``This measure has been hastily adopted by the government in the immediate aftermath of its by-election defeat which, very questionably, it blames on the publication of an opinion poll in the final days.

``Regardless of the merits, if any, of the proposal to ban opinion polls in the days before an election, it deserves much more consideration and study before enacting such a sweeping measure.

``There are many issues around political polls to be teased out. Sinn Fein support has consistently been underestimated by opinion polls. For a long time we were not included in polls and we had to lobby to ensure that we were. There are questions as to the size and nature of the sampling done by pollsters.

``All these issues should be teased out. For example it would be useful for the Environment and Local Government Committee to hear submissions from pollsters and the media who publish them.

``No strong arguments have been presented to support such a measure which infringes what is a basic right - freedom of speech and freedom of information.''

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