‘Relations Between The Department And Data Watchdog Have Soured’


Public Services Card; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty; Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon

This morning.

The Irish Times is reporting that the the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will publish the report by the State’s data protection watchdog – the Data Protection Commission – into the public services card.

Jack Horgan-Jones reports:

Relations between the department and the data watchdog have soured arising from the report, with secretary general John McKeon last week writing to Ms [Data Protection Commissioner Helen] Dixon to outline a series of alleged inconsistencies, as well as criticising the manner in which the investigation and its report were completed and publicised.

The letter, which has been seen by The Irish Times, was delivered by hand to Ms Dixon last week.

…The manner in which the commission handled the submission of the report also comes in for criticism. The watchdog has no powers to publish the report, but the department alleges that it “nevertheless published the core elements of the report” via a press release, media briefings and interviews.

“The department considers that these actions by the DPC are prejudicial to its interests and requests that the DPC now identify its vires [powers] for having so published its findings.”

It follows the Irish Examiner reporting yesterday that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said it would “not be in the public interest” to publish the report.

Solicitor Simon McGarr has tweeted his thoughts…


Associate Professor of Law at University College Dublin and chair of Digital Rights Ireland TJ McIntyre has also shared his thoughts…


Ciannan Brennan, of The Irish Examiner, has also tweeted his thoughts…

Watchdog accused of procedures breach on Public Services Card (Jack Horgan-Jones, The Irish Times)

Public services card: watchdog’s full report to be published today (Jack Horgan-Jones, The Irish Times)

Previously: “Not In The Public Interest”

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13 thoughts on “‘Relations Between The Department And Data Watchdog Have Soured’

  1. eoin

    What??? Relations between Data Protection Commissioner and the government department – which conducted illegal mass surveillance on citizens, 3.2 million when the investigation began, up to 4 million today – have SOURED?????

    Next, you’ll be telling us relations between the Gardai and the Kinahan drug trafficking organisation have soured. Unbelievable.

    [on a serious note, how cynical that the report will be published this afternoon as the Dail returns, which lances the boil of every opposition TD tearing strips out of the government for sitting on the report, the draft conclusions of which they’ve had for 13 months]

    1. Cian

      It took the DPC 12 months to complete the final report from the draft.
      Does this suggest:
      a) there were major changes between the draft and the final report
      b) the DPC is incompetent (what were they doing for 12 months?)
      c) other?

      1. Joe Small

        I think the deliberate press leaks and off-the-record press briefings by the DPC are causing some bad blood too.

      2. eoin

        (a) the Commissioner was required in law to share the draft report with the Minister to provide her with an opportunity to comment, and the Minister deliberately sought to stall the process by demanding minor changes and clarifications, all the while continuing to act against the conclusions in the report by expanding the PSC and increasing the number in issue from 3.2m to 4.0 million (and there are only 4.9 million of us), in the hope that the concept of a national ID card would be implemented without consultation and before anyone could legally challenge it.
        (b) it’s (a)

  2. Catherine costelloe

    The Dail voted 2:1 for a public enquiry into tragic death of Shane o Farell. That vote didn’t matter a jot and its dispicable undemocratic behaviour from this government. Let’s hope you don’t lose your job , Ms Dixon , for standing up to this dictatorship!

  3. curmudgeon

    Yesterday I lamented how broadsheet lazily just throw up a picture of the minister of the day instead of the civil servant respnsible. Too much to ask? You’ve done it before why not do it again. It really is helpful to put a face to the villain of the piece. Sec General DEASP John Mckeon:
    and here’s a more realistic picture of him at the PAC in 2017 (admitting that the “welfare cheats,cheats us all campaign” was complete horseradish) courtesy of your fine selves

  4. Truth in the News

    What data is stored on the Card and what data is kept by the Dept and who has access
    to it and where may a Card Holder obtain a copy of the details held on them and who also
    had access, there needs to be a class action to instigate legal proceedings for invasion of
    privacy…..any chance of a crowd funding initiative…..can’t the DPC start proceedings also
    The administration part of the Government need their wings clipping, and hide behind
    their political masters, who in many instances haven’t a clue what the Civil Service are
    up to

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