It says a lot about a lack of trust in politics when politicians seem to not even trust themselves.
Fine Gael has contracted a security firm which normally protects the physical movement of large quantities of money from banks via vans to oversee the security of its ballot boxes over the coming days.
Several sources in the party have told the Irish Examiner the move was taken in order to guarantee leadership votes from grassroots members are not tampered with between now and the time they are revealed on Friday.
And while there is no suggestion that anyone is attempting to manipulate the votes to gain the result they want, the decision to appoint a high-level security firm to keep the ballot boxes under lock and key at an unspecified secure location underlines the tense nature of the contest.
“Fine Gael has put all the necessary arrangements in place to ensure the integrity of the vote for the new leader of our party. All ballot papers will be secured and protected in advance of the count on Friday,” a party spokesperson said when asked about the ballot box security measures.
News of the use of external security experts to protect leadership votes came as the second of five days’ voting took place yesterday.
On Tuesday, thousands of votes were cast in Kerry, Mayo, Carlow, Dublin, Cavan, Kildare, and Wicklow, with votes in parts of Cork, south Dublin, Donegal and Westmeath held on Monday night. These votes involved more than 21,000 grassroots Fine Gael members across the country, and will continue until tomorrow, with all votes cast being guarded until the vote count in Dublin on Friday.
Over the coming days, local councils nationwide will also cast their votes in favour of either Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar or Housing Minister Simon Coveney, before members of the parliamentary party vote on Friday between 8am and 12pm.
While the three electoral colleges are all crucial to the vote result, the parliamentary party section — which consists of TDs, senators and MEPs — is the most high-profile and accounts for 65% of the final result.
The council section accounts for 10% of the result, while grassroots members represent 25% of the final tally.
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