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Sinead Ryan: Thin line between tweet and twits for TDs

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Alan Farrell, Fine Gael deputy for Dublin North

Alan Farrell, Fine Gael deputy for Dublin North

Alan Farrell, Fine Gael deputy for Dublin North

We’re told the Government is going into election mode despite the next cull, er ... sorry, democratic ballot, not taking place for at least 15 months.

Nevertheless, Fine Gael has been busy recruiting advisers to show candidates how to woo voters in the run up to 2016. 

They’ll be told to get their social media profiles active, make like they’re ‘down with the people’ and ensure constituents hear about good news stories.

I imagine very few of the behind-the-scenes professionals imagined they’d have to start by reminding TDs not to be rude to voters. As Electioneering 101 goes, calling them bad names would raise political eyebrows across the board. 

Alan Farrell mustn’t have got the memo. Who, you ask? As well you might.

The Fingal TD seems to pass his days quietly unnoticed in the Dail chamber, where name-calling is generally frowned upon by the Ceann Comhairle.

But when it comes to Twitter he leaps into action, calling one follower a “moron” and very possibly securing a vote for another party in the process.

After posting a CSO graph showing a drop in unemployment, with the helpful tweet: “Lowest unemployment rate in 5 years #allaboutjobs”, Mr Farrell might well need to mind his own.

Because, when criticized for the lack of information in the accompanying graphic (which wasn’t his), he dropped the ‘m’ word.

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It’s not the best electoral strategy, but, with popularity figures plummeting for Fine Gael, perhaps it’s time they’d tried a more aggressive approach to electioneering?

To be fair, treading a fine line on a political Twitter account is difficult.

Some are deadly dull, packed with tweets about legislation. Others post images of themselves opening things and generally looking happy.

Given that politics is regarded as showbiz for ugly people, the latter doesn’t always end well.

Some, like Health Minister Leo Varadkar, get a mix – some personal stuff but mostly chit chat about his day while getting in some good news on policies.

Gerry Adams’ account, on the other hand, looks like it’s been hacked, with streams of consciousness about his teddy bear and medical ailments.

Outside politics, it’s no safer. 

Welsh scrum half Mike Phillips got into an unlikely row with One Direction’s Niall Horan who had called him an “arrogant idiot”.  Phillips invited him to the next game, adding sarcastically: “Bring the rest of the Beatles   with you.” 

Sadly the RaboTweeties, on this week, had no award for Twitter cock-ups, but there’d be plenty of candidates. Maybe it’s one poll that Deputy Farrell could top.


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