Then Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe with a Public Services Card in 2006; Solicitor Simon McCarr
Solicitor Simon McGarr, of Dublin firm McGarr Solicitors, was very vocal about his concerns in respect of the Public Services Card for years.
This was long before the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon last week found that there is no legal basis for anyone to have to present a PSC in respect of any transaction between a person and a public body outside the Department of Employment and Social Protection.
At the weekend, Mr McGarr tweeted redacted documents that he obtained which show how closely the Department of Social Welfare was following his media utterances on the matter – including his tweets…
Previously: House of Card
Towards the end of the interview, they had this exchange…
Gavan Reilly: “If there is an internal note on the Department of Social Protection about your appearance on this show here today, what do you imagine they’re saying about you?”
Simon McGarr: “I can’t imagine it’s complimentary based on the previous notes that I got. But what I will say is this: One of the talking points which have emerged since the report [from the Data Protection Commissioner] is the argument is that ‘well, look, surely everyone acknowledges, our intentions were good while we illegally collected a database on three million people.
“And, at some point, the intentions were good, absolutely. In the sense that nobody intended to break the law, at some point when this was being designed.
“The question is at what point did they become aware that the law was being broken and being carried on anyway.
“And I do know that the Journal.ie received documents between the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority which said that Shane Ross had received a verbal briefing from the Attorney General in March 2018.”
Reilly: “So the Attorney General was giving advice, nearly 18 months ago, that there already some legal concern or ambiguity about this?”
McGarr: “Well, on foot of the conversation, having cited the conversation as the reason for doing it, the Department of Transport instructed the Road Safety Authority to stop requiring the public to use the Public Services Card in their online application.
“And the Road Safety Authority complained that they’d spent millions building that. So, in March 2018, Shane Ross took the right decision on the Attorney General’s advice and he said ‘no, we won’t do that’.
“Now, the question is: at what point did everybody else in the public service become aware of the Attorney General’s opinion and why did they take no action from March 2018 to now?”
Listen back in full here