Michael Staines
Michael Staines

14.59 18 Aug 2019


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Two Government departments are to be brought before the Public Accounts Committee over the Public Services Card Controversy.

It comes after a major investigation by the Data Protection Commission found that the State’s use of the card is illegal.

In recent years, an increasing number of Government departments and State agencies have been demanding the card before granting access to their services.

The report found that the Department of Social Protection (DSP) is the only department with the right to do so.

It also found that it is holding on to too much personal data for too long and criticised the DSP over the information it provided to the public about the card.

Public Accounts Committee

The Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon is due to outline her findings to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on September 26th.

Committee chairman Sean Fleming told Newstalk that officials from the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Expenditure and Reform will follow soon after.

He said the committee will consider the full report and question Ms Dixon on her reasons for issuing it.

He said he can see the value in having a social services card – but accused the Government of acting dishonestly rolling it out.

“The Government always intended it to be a national ID card but they never admitted and they snuck it in through the back door through the Department of social Protection,” he said.

“Every Government Department is using these now without proper authorisation in many cases.

“We are going to have bring in not just the Department of Social Protection but also the Department of Expenditure and Reform – because they are responsible for the entire public service and this is across the all the public services, it is not just one department.”

Public Services Card

There are concerns the controversy could end up costing the State millions in legal fees – with the potential for class action law-suits if the project is found to be in breach of European GDPR data protection laws.

The State has been given 21 days to delete data that it should not have held on to.

The DPC report found that the department is entitled to keep basic information like name, age and gender - but must delete the documentation submitted to prove those details once it is satisfied a person is who they say they are.

Meanwhile, the Government has six weeks to come up with a plan to make changes to the wider Public Services Card scheme.


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Department Of Expenditure And Reform Department Of Social Protection Public Accounts Committee Public Services Card

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