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Taoiseach admits using personal email address for government business

He said it is for “operational reasons”.

Image: Sam Boal

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has told the Dáil that he uses a personal email account for official business.

However, Kenny said that he does not transmit “corporate business” on the email address, which he has “had for some time”.

Kenny was asked by Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin whether his Department has a policy on the use of unofficial email accounts.

He said that the Department has “detailed lCT policies relating to the use of e-mail and the Internet which are provided to all staff” but Martin pressed him on the use of personal emails.

“I endeavour to ascertain from the Taoiseach whether he is satisfied that our system is fit for purpose in the context of the challenges democratic Governments now face regarding the security of their IT systems, in particular in respect of e-mail accounts and so on.

There is the official route of encryption of official documents and so on but also the separate matter of the use of unofficial e-mails.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams and Labour’s Brendan Howlin also voiced their concerns in the wake of news that Russian hackers had sought to influence the US election by hacking the Democratic and Republican parties.

Kenny responded that he was “advised that the situation is secure” but that a personal address was used.

“I have a private e-mail account that pre-dates my time as Taoiseach and which I use for personal correspondence or for party political correspondence that would not be appropriate to transmit on an official e-mail account from the Department.

“The Department has an official account for my constituency office for receipt of matters relevant to the Cabinet or the agenda in that sense. Sometimes I receive correspondence through that official e-mail address.

I also use a secure corporate e-mail account to enable officials to send me priority e-mails when I am out of the office. I can access this e-mail account on my mobile telephone or iPad. No corporate data, other than e-mail and calendar data, is accessible from these devices. All corporate data on the devices is encrypted. Both devices are protected through specialised mobile device management products.
Obviously, I generally use the corporate e-mail for official purposes. In the past, there have been occasions when I have used that personal e-mail because of operational reasons. However, information does not go there from the secured encrypted e-mails. Government agenda or business comes to me via encrypted e-mail addresses.

“I have seen what happens internationally. Irrespective of the firewalls put in place, I have a healthy scepticism of the ability of people to be able to breach them.”

Last month, it was revealed that the Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan had used a private gmail account to discuss garda business.

Read: Updated: Commissioner used private gmail account to discuss garda business

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