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Taoiseach won't say if record-keeping methods have changed in his department

Enda Kenny has bemoaned the “paucity” of documentation in his Department related to the previous government’s decision to issue a bank guarantee in September 2008 but won’t say if record-keeping methods have changed.

The Department of the Taoiseach is located in government buildings on Merrion Street in Dublin.
The Department of the Taoiseach is located in government buildings on Merrion Street in Dublin.
Image: Wikimedia Commons via Wikipedia

THE DEPARTMENT OF the Taoiseach will not say whether or not it has changed the way in which records are kept despite Enda Kenny’s repeated claims about the paucity of records in his office related to the bank guarantee five years ago.

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly asked if there had been any changes in the filing and retention of documents in Kenny’s department since the government to came to office recently but his question was not addressed in written answers.

His queries followed the Taoiseach’s repeated comments about the “paucity” of documentation in his Department related to the previous government’s decision to issue a blanket bank guarantee in September 2008.

In answer to a parliamentary question on 16 July, Kenny said that all records and data are held in compliance with Data Protection, Freedom of Information and National Archives legislation.

He added that documents are also held “in compliance with the records management guidelines set out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform”.

Donnelly complained to the office of the Ceann Comhairle under Dáil standing orders claiming that the answer did not properly address his question.

Donnelly’s had asked “the Taoiseach further to Parliamentary Question No. 123 of 9 July 2013, the changes in the filing and retention of documents in his Department that have been introduced since this Government came into office.”

Questions

In a letter to Donnelly, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett stated: “Having considered  the matter, I have to inform you that I do not agree with your opinion and therefore cannot take any further action in the matter.”

Donnelly’s office has said he has since been told by the Ceann Comhairle’s office that he did not specifically ask about what type of changes were made therefore it is not incumbent on the Department of the Taoiseach to provide a specific answer.

The Wicklow TD has now submitted a raft of new questions, asking specifically about new protocols, training for staff, new positions, audits, and new IT systems within the Department in the hope of a more informative response.

But this will not be available until the Dáil returns in September.

TheJournal.ie asked the Department of the Taoiseach if record-keeping methods had changed in the department since Enda Kenny came into office but were given an identifiable answer to that given to deputy Donnelly on 16 July.

A statement said: “All records and data, electronic and paper based, held in the Department are maintained in compliance with the provisions of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003, the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 and the National Archives Act 1986 and in compliance with the records management guidelines set out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER).”

The record management guidelines set out by the DPER refer to guidance issued by the Centre for Management and Organisation Development in 2005. This has since been renamed the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer which is a division of DPER, a spokesperson said.

The Government’s Chief Information Officer is Bill McCluggage, appointed in June of this year, who is tasked with devising and implementing a new ICT strategy across the public service.

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Read: Cabinet papers from 2008 set to become available

Read: No full record of who visited Taoiseach’s department on bank guarantee night

Read: Did the Taoiseach talk to staff in his department about the bank guarantee?

Fianna Fáil: Claims of no bank guarantee documents are ‘a lie’, and this FOI proves it

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Hugh O'Connell

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