Top gardaí quizzed on use of private email for official business

Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

Top-ranking gardaí have been asked by an Oireachtas Committee to outline their use of private email accounts to send or receive official garda documentation.

Labour’s Alan Kelly has asked assistant commissioners and chief superintendents for written replies on whether files from the force have been shared by Gmail or private accounts.

The concern was raised after gardaí previously failed to provide a report to the Policing Authority on a private email account used by former garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

This followed the revelation that Ms O’Sullivan had used a commercial email service to send official garda correspondence.

Mr Kelly asked 10 senior garda members at the Justice Committee yesterday to outline their use of private accounts to exchange files or sensitive details.

He added: “Have you in your work for An Garda Síochána ever sent or received any official garda documentation to any Garda colleagues’ Gmail or private email accounts? So, did you ever send any documentation to any colleagues’ private email accounts, or did you ever receive from a colleague any official documentation from a private email account?”

But the request was put on hold after the reply from one member.

Chief Supt Brian Sutton had said: “I am not in a position to answer because I don’t know.”

The members were then asked to respond to the committee in writing within a reasonable timeline.

The force’s chief administrative officer Joseph Nugent said such email exchanges were kept.

“Any email that is sent in to the organisation from an external provider, or is sent from the organisation out (to an external provider) is recorded in the Garda systems.

“All of those emails that are sent in to the organisation or out of the organisation are retained within the organisation in case they have to be disclosed at some point in the future.”

Elsewhere, the committee heard only a quarter of motorists wrongly fined or given court summonses for fixed charged notices have responded to gardaí attempting to correct records.

Answering Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers, assistant commissioner Michael Finn said the force had tried to engage with those affected. It is estimated that 14,700 people were wrongly convicted of motoring offences. It also meant that 146,865 motorists who paid charges were erroneously still sent a summons to appear in court.


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