Sunday 22 July 2018

Enda sent Facebook chief thank-you note for her book, 'Option B', as Leo took over

CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP: Senior Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg sent Enda Kenny a copy of her book ‘Option B’ during his final days as Taoiseach
CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP: Senior Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg sent Enda Kenny a copy of her book ‘Option B’ during his final days as Taoiseach
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

A book about facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy was sent to Enda Kenny by one of Facebook's most senior executives during his final days as Taoiseach.

On the day Leo Varadkar was elected leader of Fine Gael, Mr Kenny sent Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg a note thanking her for a copy of her book.

The typed letter, sent on Office of the Taoiseach headed paper, commended her for telling a personal life story.

Ms Sandberg was understood to have had a close working relationship with Mr Kenny and had extraordinary access to the former Taoiseach during his time as the head of Government.

She lobbied him on matters including the appointment of a Data Protection Commissioner and the pair regularly met at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland.

"Our meeting is one of the highlights of Davos every year," she wrote to him in an email after the event last January.

"As always, it was such a pleasure to see you.

"We're all so grateful for your partnership - and look forward to doing more together in the months and years ahead."

Mr Kenny announced his intention to step down as Taoiseach four months later but replied saying he was looking forward to working with Facebook in the future.

"I hope that I don't need to say that we are committed to supporting Facebook along every step in Ireland and we very much look forward to working with you in the future," he wrote.

"My own department and IDA Ireland will follow up on the matters discussed. In particular, I have noted the continued importance of data privacy as an issue for you and other technology companies," he added.

During his final days in Government, he again wrote to Ms Sandberg thanking her for sending him a copy of her book, Option B.

She wrote the book with her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, after the untimely death of her husband, David Goldberg.

Philip Ryan: State response to online dangers for children has been pitiful

The book got its title after Ms Sandberg was upset by the fact her husband, "Option A", would no longer be able to take part in activities with their son and daughter.

As she mourned her husband, she met and spoke with a friend, who told her: "Option A is not available. So let's just kick the s**t out of Option B."

The book aims to offer tips to combat grief and build strong family and community values. The New Yorker magazine has labelled it "Facebook's way to grieve".

It was published at the end of April and has sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Mr Kenny thanked her for his copy of the book on June 2, the day Leo Varadkar became Fine Gael leader.

"You are sharing a very personal story which will resonate with so many people who have travelled, or are setting out on the journey you have taken since Dave's passing," Mr Kenny wrote in the typed letter.

"I wish you and your family continued strength."

He then personally signed the letter "Enda" before including a short postscript note: "Thank you, E."

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section