In June 2004, an individual who had been working on contract in the Department of Foreign Affairs received a four year suspended sentence for the theft of eight laptop computers from the Department. The individual had been contracted from a specialist information technology company to work as part of a team of contractors, to provide IT help desk support for the Department in the lead up to and for the duration of Ireland's Presidency of the European Union.
Failure to complete security checks for this individual, as opposed to a flaw with the security check procedures, occurred on this occasion. All IT staff contracted for the Presidency, including this individual, were the subject of standard security clearance procedures equivalent to those related to the recruitment of full-time staff members in the Department. Unfortunately, due to increasing demands on the IT help desk service and in view of an existing positive working relationship with the individual's employer, the person concerned commenced work in the Department in advance of completion of the normal security checks. The theft of equipment and subsequent arrest of the individual concerned occurred in advance of completion of these checks.
Following a review of procedures and practices resulting from this incident, arrangements for conducting security checks have now been tightened. I assure the Deputy that no one now commences work in the Department in advance of completion of the security clearance procedures.