Revenue rejects 'snooping' claim

 

The Revenue Commissioners have strongly rejected suggestions of a culture of "casual snooping" after six of its officials were disciplined for needlessly accessing confidential tax records.

It emerged at the weekend that Revenue had discovered the six officials retrieving tax records unconnected with their day-to-day duties.

The Sunday Times reported that the records related to the tax affairs of celebrities, colleagues and friends. The six individuals in question have been demoted and told not to apply for promotion for two years.

Labour TD Róisín Shortall is quoted by the newspaper as suggesting the existence of "a culture of casual snooping" in Revenue.

In 2005, the files of Euromillions Lottery winner Dolores McNamara were accessed by Revenue staff for no valid reason.

A spokesman for the Commissioners yesterday said: "We utterly refute suggestions that there is a culture of casual snooping in Revenue".

He pointed to the authority's "swift action" on the matter as evidence that it took it seriously and was "prepared to take serious and prompt action".

The spokesman said Revenue regularly remind staff of the importance of privacy and discretion in relation to tax affairs.

"We rely on the professionalism of the vast majority of our 7,000 staff," he said, adding that commissioners are "constantly on the lookout" for developments in technology that would make it easier to monitor staff activities.