Cormac McQuinn: ‘Emails show relations with tech firm are still very warm’

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Cormac McQuinn: ‘Emails show relations with tech firm are still very warm’


Former taoiseach Enda Kenny with Leo Varadkar in 2016. Photo: Tom Burke
Former taoiseach Enda Kenny with Leo Varadkar in 2016. Photo: Tom Burke

It’s six years since former Taoiseach Enda Kenny was allegedly listed in a Facebook internal memo as among its “friends” but newly released emails show that relations with the Irish Government remain very cordial.

Senior Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg sent Taoiseach Leo Varadkar a preview picture of the design for the company’s new Irish office. She also thanked him for his feedback on the social media platform’s public safety efforts. Ms Sandberg was in Dublin in January when she announced 1,000 extra jobs.

She met European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee, who gave Facebook’s chief operating officer an update on the Irish position on Brexit. It was during her visit to Dublin that Ms Sandberg said Facebook “needs to do a better job keeping people safe on our platform”. Just days later she met Mr Varadkar at the World Economic Forum in Davos. She emailed both Mr Varadkar and Ms McEntee following their meetings.

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Ms Sandberg told Mr Varadkar that it had been “a pleasure to see you and your team again in Davos”.

She said she enjoyed her time in Dublin and was glad of the “opportunity to share more about our continued investments in Ireland”.

She added: “I also appreciated your feedback on our ongoing efforts to strike the right balance between free expression and public safety.

“We are thinking carefully about this and will continue to engage constructively with your Government”.

In her email to Ms McEntee, the executive said Facebook remained grateful for the “excellent business environment that successive Irish governments have created”.

She also told Ms McEntee she would be “thinking of you in the coming weeks as Brexit decisions unfold”.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar last night insisted the relationship with Facebook was “no more nor less close than with any other large firm”.

He insisted: “The Irish Government has a good relationship with all major employers and major investors in Ireland.”

He said the meeting between Ms Sandberg and Mr Varadkar had been “robust”.

The spokesman said Mr Varadkar thanked Facebook for the new jobs it was creating in Ireland but “also raised our concerns about election interference, fake news, privacy and online abuse”.

Irish Independent

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