Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Regina Doherty; Public Services Card; Section 263, sub section 3 of the Social Welfare and Consolidation Act of 2005
Yesterday, Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty went on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland to defend the Government’s position on the Public Services Card, despite findings about the card made by the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon.
During the interview, Ms Doherty repeatedly said the Social Welfare and Consolidation Act of 2005 has allowed the Government to do what it has done in respect of the card and she said that that is the legal advice she’s received from the Attorney General’s Office – advice she will not publish
Ms Doherty said:
“Where we [the Government and the DPC] have a difference here is in the interpretation of the Social Welfare and Consolidation Act of 2005. My legal advice is incredibly strong, that we have a clear and unambiguous legal basis to do exactly what we intended to do from 2005 and what successive governments have done since…”
She also said:
“In the 2005 legislation in sub section 3 of that legislation, it very, very clearly sets out exactly what the anticipated use was for, what the legal right and the responsibility of the data controller is and that’s exactly what we’ve done and so we really believe that we have a very, very strong legal basis to do exactly what we have done…”
Ciannan Brennan, in The Irish Examiner, writes:
The minister referred to subsection three of that Act, and 23 words that the department and the DPC disagreed over.
Loose talk aside, there is only one section she could mean — subsection three of section 263 regarding a prospective Public Service Card.
Those words are: “A person shall produce his or her Public Service Card at the request of a specified body for the purposes of a transaction.”
That’s it. You’ll note that nowhere in that sentence are the words “mandatory” or “compulsory” to be found.
Put simply, there is no basis there for the blanket issuance of cards to citizens looking to access State services.”
Solicitor Simon McGarr has also tweeted his thoughts on the matter…