An Oireachtas spokesperson has confirmed that the Irish Government chamber has soft blocked access to websites related to gambling, pornography and social networking.
The blockage is known as a soft block because the person trying to access the site may do so if they wish following a warning message, and applies to everyone within or visiting Leinster House, according to The Irish Times.
“The system blocks all attempts at banned websites and soft blocks – allowing the user to proceed if they so choose – attempts to access material which may or may not be appropriate,” an Oireachtas spokesperson said.
Social media and business networking sites are subject to a soft block, as well as others the spokesperson categorised as “blogs/wiki” pages.
However, sites which feature explicit sexual material or gaming content are subject to a total block.
Interestingly, TDs are not subject to the same level of monitoring activity as other members of staff and journalists within the Oireachtas, as they are granted a “fair usage” policy whereby they are asked not to visit sites that feature “obscene, pornographic, sexist, racist or other objectionable material”, as well as not using the internet within Leinster House for any form of commercial gain.
In recent years, the activities of TDs and staff within Leinster House have come under scrutiny, particularly after incidents such as Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty resigning his Dáil seat after admitting to sending inappropriate messages to a 17-year-old girl through social media, as well as independent TD Michael Healy-Rae racking up €2,639 in phone bills in voting for a reality TV show he was participating in back in 2011.