| 14.4°C Dublin

Fas staff sent hardcore porn to other government departments

State agency Fas and several government departments have been implicated in a widespread distribution of "pornographic" or highly inappropriate material by staff in their emails, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The shocking findings are disclosed in an audit conducted by the tainted State job training agency, which uncovered heavy viewing of thousands of pornographic and "highly inappropriate images", following a trawl of its email system.

Thousands of images were sent and received by staff at Fas, including some containing "graphic nudity, focus on genitalia or suggestive poses" as well as "sexual acts including foreplay and self-sex".

"Inappropriate image abuse is current and ongoing," according to an internal audit report seen by the Sunday Independent.

Almost four per cent of all reported content in Fas mailboxes was classified as "highly inappropriate", the audit found. The images were described as depicting "adult pornography, graphic violence, extreme prejudice or severe injury". No illegal or child pornography was discovered.

The problem was not confined to within Fas, as the audit discovered that 24 per cent of the images were "identified as being sent from the organisation to external recipients, indicating the area of highest potential reputational risk".

The audit revealed that Fas staff sent dozens of inappropriate images to fellow civil servants in the HSE and the Department of Justice, with many others sent to private gmail or hotmail accounts.

But the audit also found Fas staff received inappropriate images contained in emails from the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Justice, the HSE, South Dublin County Council, Fingal Council, Sligo County Council and Kerry County Council.

The audit found 157 "highly inappropriate images" on Fas emails and another 4,177 "inappropriate images" on its system. This, however, according to Fas consultants, is not high compared with benchmark figures. Fas said its staff had not disseminated thousands of pornographic images.

The report found that the "highest source of inappropriate imagery was in outbound emails".

The audit document was given to Fas director general Paul O'Toole in March 2011.

"A detailed file has been provided to HR, which allows identification of staff by computer account. Contact will be made with appropriate staff by the end of April 2011," according to a management response to the audit.

Fas told the Sunday Independent that "any necessary corrective action was taken and the recommendations of the report were addressed".

Fianna Fail's enterprise spokesman Dara Calleary said ministers and agency bosses must ensure there were adequate policies in place to prevent the circulation of pornography or inappropriate material. He also said there should be consequences for civil servants who breached those guidelines.

"It is incumbent on every government department and agency to ensure they have adequately stringent policies," he told the Sunday Independent yesterday.

Sunday Independent