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Election 2020: Party campaigns enter last lap with Sinn Féin under pressure

Inside Politics: Sinn Féin finance minister Conor Murphy apologised for comments he made about murder victim Paul Quinn

Good morning.

With only 48 hours to go until polls open, we have finally entered the very last stretch of the election campaign.

The exhaustion and emotion in the various camps is obvious, but, given the top three parties are within touching distance of each other in the polls, the fight for every last vote continues.

The final batch of leaflets is being distributed, social media managers will increase their efforts and candidates will flagrantly roam into their colleagues’ constituency territories.


Yesterday, Day 22, was dominated again by a focus on Sinn Féin. The news for the party at the start of the week was overwhelmingly positive with Sinn Féin taking the lead as the most popular party in the country for the first time in the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll series.

Proving a week really is a long time in politics (and that TV debates can be pivotal) all that changed within 24 hours.

Breege Quinn, the mother of 21-year-old Paul Quinn from Armagh who was murdered in 2007, spent much of the election campaign asking that remarks linking her son to criminality be withdrawn – and had given two emotional interviews with the BBC and RTÉ

Those remarks, she said, were made by the Sinn Féin finance minister in the North, Conor Murphy. On Monday night, party leader Mary Lou McDonald said she did not believe it had been said Mr Quinn was a criminal.

By Tuesday night on the RTÉ three-way leaders’ debate, the full comments had surfaced, and Ms McDonald said Mr Murphy would apologise.

Mr Murphy yesterday retracted and apologised for his comments he made claiming Mr Quinn had been involved in criminality.

The full details are in our lead story here.

The response of the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have differed somewhat. Leo Varadkar said the Quinn family were entitled to justice and truth, but he also made it clear that he didn’t want to make it an election issue.

Micheál Martin, on the other hand, criticised what he called the omerta surrounding the murder.

The question now is whether the controversy had has any effect on the Sinn Féin ascent or whether it scares away new voters, those keen for a change.

We will not know until this weekend as each party faces its reckoning on Sunday. Meanwhile the campaigns will hold either a final or penultimate press conference today before the broadcast moratorium kicks in tomorrow afternoon.

We will bring you every twist and turn on

Election Daily

If you’re short on time but want to catch up on all the main developments on the election trail, have a listen to our latest Election Daily podcast which is hosted by Hugh Linehan.

Most episodes are only around ten or 15 minutes long and will bring you up to speed. The latest episode can be found here.

Best Reads

Whatever you do, don't miss Harry McGee's final seat prediction for Election 2020 – with the chance to build your own coalition.

Brian Hutton and Marie O'Halloran report on something a lot of us have been wondering about: will the Tipperary count happen on Sunday?

Miriam Lord watches as childcare workers give candidates a wake-up call.

Another excellent explainer from Simon Carswell on who Paul Quinn was and why his murder has become an election issue.

The old question of who pulls the strings comes back to haunt Sinn Féin, reports Gerry Moriarty.

Saoirse McHugh is selling her Green vision to rural Ireland.

Election Diary

Leo Varadkar will give one of his last press events in Carlow town, although the location of this is yet to be confirmed. Paschal Donohoe, Simon Coveney and Heather Humphreys will join him.

There will also be a press briefing with Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan and housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien at 11.30am at FF HQ.

The Green Party will also hold a final press conference at 11.30am.

People before Profit are expected to hold a “wrap-up presser” at Leinster House gate on Kildare Street at 10am.

The Labour Party will also hold a photocall outside Leinster House at 11am.

No word yet on Sinn Féin but expect more by early morning.

Our #GE2020 coverage

Follow all the twists and turns of the campaign on our Election 2020 website.

We will also have a daily political blog to give you live coverage - written, audio, video and social media - of the campaign as it happens. If you see anything that might be worth noting (especially if it’s quirky) you can contact Harry McGee via Twitter @harrymcgee or at

There are also profiles of each of the constituencies on our Election 2020 site for those curious about the state of play in their area.