Minister says woman in Public Services Card row should be paid her pension

It's reported that the woman is owed in the region of €13,000 due to the dispute

Minister says woman in Public Services Card row should be paid her pension

File photo. Photo:RollingNews.ie

A Cabinet minister says the department of social protection should pay a woman her pension, despite her refusal to get a Public Services Card.

The woman in her 70s is believed to be owed in the region of €13,000 due to the dispute.

The Irish Times reports that the woman told officials she would get the identity card if she was shown proof that the card was 'mandatory' - but such proof has not been produced.

Cards have now been issued to more than 2.5 million Irish citizens, and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has insisted it "is not and will not be" mandatory.

Privacy campaigners, meanwhile, have claimed that making the card compulsory for any service would amount to the introduction of "national ID card by stealth".

Michael Ring acknowledged there is confusion over how the card is being used.

The Community and Rural Affairs Minister suggests the card has been brought in for good reason, but clarity is needed on how it's implemented.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Minister Ring said that while he doesn't like speaking about individual case, he "would hope that Social Protection would pay that woman".

He argued: "I know Social Protection have the Public Services Card, and they're doing that for a very good reason. They're doing that to protect taxpayers' money, and to put safety checks in place.

"We have seen in the last number of years, the amount of fraud that they have discovered in the Department of Social Protection - and they're doing that in the best interests of the country, the best interests of the department and the best interests of the taxpayer."

He added: "The question mark is open whether [the cards] are or they aren't [compulsory]."