Face masks and Facebook among €236,000 spent on Dublin Bay South byelection

Bacik helped to victory by social media manager from Corbyn’s Labour Party

More than €236,000 was spent on the Dublin Bay South byelection last summer according to a new report by political watchdog the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).

The winning candidate, Ivana Bacik of the Labour Party, spent the most on her campaign. She declared expenditure of €36,493, including €1,300 on face masks for the election, which was held during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her campaign spent €8,560 on Facebook advertising and €1,230 on "social media support and services".

A further €1,340 was spent on "digital strategy" from Chloe Green, a former social media manager for the British Labour Party during Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Just under €2,160 was spent on badges, T-shirts and high-vis jackets during Ms Bacik’s successful run for the Dáil.

Sinn Féin reported spending of €36,370 on Senator Lynn Boylan's campaign, including more than €12,100 on "market research" carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes. Some €10,440 was spent on Facebook advertising for Ms Boylan, who came third, with another €489 spent with Google.

Expenditure of €34,626 was reported for Fianna Fáil candidate Cllr Deirdre Conroy's campaign.

Ms Conroy, who came fifth in terms of first preference votes, spent €4,350 on online advertising – including €160 on video-sharing platform Tik Tok – though the vast majority of the social media spend was with Facebook. Face coverings for the campaign cost €92, while caps, T-shirts and jackets cost just under €2,000.

Second-placed candidate Cllr James Geoghegan of Fine Gael saw €32,903 spent on his campaign, including €2,625 on social media advertising.

Use of a Nissan Leaf electric car came in at €867, including the cost of powering the vehicle.

Green Party candidate Cllr Claire Byrne – who came fourth – had €30,345 spent on her campaign, with €770 spent on Facebook advertising.

The Social Democrats declared €26,066 on the campaign of seventh-placed candidate Sarah Durcan, including €2,495 with Facebook.

Election posters

The biggest spending category across all candidates – those in parties and Independents – was “Other Election Material”, with more than €92,600 declared.

Almost €73,000 was spent on election posters during the Dublin Bay South campaign.

Parties and candidates were only required to declare expenses incurred for electoral purposes between June 16th and polling day on July 8th. A total of €236,453 in spending was declared to Sipo.

Candidates were entitled to a maximum reimbursement of €8,700 if they were elected or got more than a quarter of the quota at any stage in the counting of votes.

Ms Bacik, Ms Boylan, Ms Byrne, Ms Conroy and Mr Geoghegan all qualified for the €8,700 reimbursement.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn declared €10,396 in spending; People Before Profit reported €9,319 spent on Brigid Purcell's campaign; Aontú reported €9,297 on Mairead Tóibín's election bid; and Renua Ireland declared €4,056 for Jacqui Gilbourne's campaign.

The far-right National Party declared €2,557 in spending in the bid to get leader Justin Barrett elected. He got 183 first preference votes.

Some €1,971 in spending was declared for the campaign of anti-vaccination activist and Independent candidate Dolores Cahill, who got 169 first preference votes.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

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