The deputy leader of Fine Gael, Jim Mitchell, has rejected a Fianna Fáil claim that a corporate cabal of wealthy business interests had paid for a private opinion poll on the Fine Gael leadership election. He was responding to a demand from the Minister for Justice, John O'Donoghue, that the new leader, Michael Noonan, should name those behind the survey. Mr Mitchell said the cost of the poll had been borne by 20 party supporters at a cost of less than £500 each. He said there were no corporate bodies or well known businessmen involved.

Earlier the Fine Gael leader rejected the claim that he knew about the commissioning of a private opinion poll. The poll sought to establish how Fine Gael would fare under a leader other than John Bruton. Mr Noonan said that no such opinion polls were conducted on his behalf or with his knowledge. He called on John O’Donoghue to withdraw, what he termed, his false allegations.