House Of Card


Above:Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon on RTÉ Radio One this morning; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty

This morning.

The Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan.

It followed Ms Dixon’s finding that there is no legal basis for anyone to have to present a Public Services Card in respect of any transaction between a person and a public body outside the Department of Employment and Social Protection – such as obtaining a drivers’ licence, passport, education grants, etc.

And her finding that the supporting information that the 3.2 million card holders had to hand over in order to get their card – such as utility bills, proof of ID, etc – must now be deleted.

Ms O’Callaghan told listeners that the show sought an interview with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty – who famously, in 2017, said the cards were  mandatory but not compulsory” – but she was not available.

Her spokesperson said she has received Ms Dixon’s report and that she will respond in “due course”.

Ms Dixon clarified a number of her findings outlined in her press release issued this morning.

In respect of her call for the destruction of data held on the 3.2 million card holders, she said:

They have to delete the supporting documentation that they collected. They do not have to delete the PSI dataset elements and what that Public Sector Identity set elements are are the name, address – the information that they extract and validated from the supporting documentation will not be deleted. Because existing cards are not invalid. It’s the supporting documentation that they must delete.”

In respect of how the card has been used – by departments outside the Department of Employment and Social Protection – Ms Dixon said that she has found other departments have recently been rowing back on demanding that a Public Services Card be presented.

She said:

“As far as we can see the only mandatory requirements at the moment, outside of the department itself, are from the immigration service for citizenship applications and the passport office for new adult passport applicants.

“So in fact, already, some of the bodies have rolled back and usefully so in light of our findings.”

She added:

“As I say, what the Government does from here, and what it intends and wants the system to be, is a matter for the Government.”

Asked by a listener if they should cut up and destroy their card, Ms Dixon said:

“No I hope it’s clear from what I’ve said that cards that have been issued are valid, can continue to be used to avail of free travel and if the individual asking is a benefit recipient from the department then they must still produce it as required.” 


Independent TD Catherine Connolly

Independent TD for Galway West Catherine Connolly also joined Miriam O’Callaghan this morning.

Ms Connolly said:

“As I understand it, the Department has had a copy of the draft report since August of last year and I’ve just heard Helen Dixon say that in August last year, notwithstanding that the Government had a copy of the draft report with all of these concerns, they simultaneously extended the requirement to have this card for other services.

“That in itself tells me something.”

Ms Connolly also said that since she started being a TD in 2016, she and other TDs have consistently raised the issue in the Dáil and the Public Accounts Committee.

She also paid tribute to a “female Irish Times” journalist who has been writing about the matter but failed to mention her name. Presumably Ms Connolly was referring to Elaine Edwards.

Ms Connolly said:

The response from the minister and the Government was patronising. They said they knew best. We were raising matters that weren’t relevant, that we were making a big deal out of nothing.”

She added:

“What has happened here is it was the introduction of an identity card by stealth. There may well be arguments for an identity card but they were never discussed in the Dáil. In fact, it was frankly denied by the Government.”

Ms Connolly also asked why no comprehensive business case was given the Public Accounts Committee for the roll-out of the cards – which is estimated to have cost €62million to date.

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Your Card Has Been Declined


30 thoughts on “House Of Card

  1. eoin

    If 3.2m cards have been issued and there are only 1.3m people in receipt of social welfare [as claimed on the other thread] then,

    what are the government’s plans to reduce the number of PSCs from 3.2m to 1.3m and why can’t 1.9m people take out a scissors and cut their PSCs up today?

    1.9m? Maybe we could have anti-Big Brother public barbeque’s to burn the bloody things.

    1. Cian

      don’t forget Pensioners (& all other that get free travel is 800,000+) and Children’s allowances (700,000+) as well Jobseekers, Disabilities, Careers, Illness , and a slew of other benefits.

      1. millie vanilly strikes again

        Surely all those benefits you’ve listed, Cian, would fall under the umbrella term of ‘social welfare’. Or is my understanding of it wrong?

        1. Cian

          Yes, they are social welfare recipients. eoin plucked the figure of 1.3m from his behind. I was adding other categories of recipients that he isn’t including in his made-up figure of 1.3m.

      2. eoin

        The 1.3m is from another commenter on the earlier PSC thread. What overlap is there between the recipients of various social welfare benefits, eg how many of what you say are 700,000 getting childrens allowance also have free travel.

        If it’s not 1.3m , what is it? [And it’s not 3.2m]

  2. Dhaughton99

    I thought that a new version was coming out next year anyway? Mine has expiry of April 2020.

    Nothing another couple of hundred million and a tweak of legislation won’t sort out.

  3. Murtles

    Poor auld Seosaimhin Eilionor Williams Fitzpatrick must be morto today, her face is on every paper and website on the sample PSC.

  4. eoin

    “We only received the report yesterday” protests Regina Doherty today and she’s studying it so she can get her heard around it and then decide what to do.

    Fair enough and reasonable, you might think yet the draft of the report was provided by the data commissioner to the government a year ago. This is not a bolt out of the blue.

    Bye, bye Regina. Even Fergus O’Dowd would do a better job than you.

      1. Ian-O

        Failure in business, failure in politics, failure when it comes to having the thick skin required to deal with legitimate criticism (siccing the Gardai on a blogger), failure when it comes to sounding like a reasonable mammal when an interview doesn’t go her way.

        No wonder she went so far with FG.

    1. Clampers Outside

      Regina is correct, she only had a draft, and got the finished report yesterday.

      Just sticking a stick in…. don’t mind me.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        So she says anyway. All final reports like these would have to be seen by government well in advance of their release I’d have thought.

    2. Joe Small

      If the draft report was available a year ago, what on earth has the DPC been doing with it for the past 12 months? Checking typos?

  5. BS

    I got a letter a few months ago “inviting” me to apply for one. On the form i was expected to write, and have delivered unsecurely by An Post was;

    PPS No.
    And 3 security questions such as – mothers maiden name, name of first pet, city born in etc…

    Basically EVERYTHING that a criminal needs to steal your identity…This information should never be put on paper, should only ever be inputted into a secure website and stored encrypted on a database…yet all this info and more is being retained in paper format as well as electronically.

    I wonder will they shred all the paper records or just dump them in a skip round the back of the office?

    1. Cian

      personally I’d prefer to trust data being delivered by AnPost (or any other postal service) than on the internet.

      1. BS

        Really? Even registered post just means its scanned at each end, delivery is never guaranteed, it can go missing, be opened en route or delivered to the wrong person.

        I’d much rather trust an encrypted connection between myself and a website

  6. Clampers Outside

    Shouldn’t there be a look for the model on the PSC card, a bit like the looking for the Aer Lingus air hostess? Sure they’re both famous now eh?

    I’m awake, can’t sleep…. never pick up an electronic device when u can’t sleep.

    I’ll heed myself some day.

    1. shortforbob

      Bet she isn’t even Irish. Stock image probably.

      I decided not to wade in to this argument, there’s a rich history of other countries making similar dumb mistakes.

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