‘Why Did The Department Interject?’

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Then Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, at the Public Services Card Centre, D’Olier House in Dublin after he registered for a PSC in 2016

Yesterday evening.

In the Dáil.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty raised Cianan Brennan’s article in yesterday’s Irish Examiner with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe.

Mr Cianan reported that Mr Donohoe’s department ordered the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to drop a secondary method for parents to apply for National Childcare Scheme subsidies – ensuring that the only way parents can apply for the subsidies will be through MyGovID, for which one needs a Public Services Card.

Mr Doherty yesterday evening asked Mr Donohoe twice why the department ordered for the second method to be dropped and, twice, Mr Donohoe failed to give a reason for the move.

From their exchange:

Pearse Doherty: “The new national childcare scheme opens for applications on 29 October. No parent can apply for this scheme without a public services card.

“This is despite the Data Protection Commissioner’s decision that there is no legal basis for this requirement and it being deemed illegal by the commissioner.

“Parents who do not have a public services card will have no choice but to wait until January when written applications can be made. Why did the Department interject when a secondary method to apply for this scheme was to be provided for parents?

“At the insistence of the Department, this proposal was dropped by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

“Will the Minister explain this, given that the Data Protection Commissioner has deemed that there is no legal basis for leaving parents with only one option as regards the form of identification they can use to apply for the scheme?”

Paschal Donohoe: “My good colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, is working on ways to ensure that families and parents will be able to access the national childcare scheme.

“The Deputy referred to me being in the dock on this matter. I fully understand the views of the Data Protection Commission, an institution which I take seriously. In each of the budgets that I have introduced, I have made more resources available to the commission because it is an important organisation for the management of information, both for the private sector and Government.

“I have taken a different view on the role of the public services card following legal advice that has been made available to me. The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, and I did not take lightly the decision we made to offer a differing view from that of the Data Protection Commissioner.

“This was done after we obtained legal advice on where we stood, which left me satisfied that the card has robust legal standing and that the appropriate course was to make clear that we take a different view from the commissioner on this issue. I know the commissioner has spoken to the Oireachtas about the issue and indicated the course of action she is likely to take.

Doherty: “Will the Minister outline why his Department insisted that a second form of access to the national childcare scheme be dropped, leaving parents with only the public services card as a means of accessing this scheme?”

Donohoe: “We believe that we are on solid legal foundations in using the public services card as a way to help citizens to access services efficiently. Encouraging greater use of the public services card over time will lead to more convenient and efficient ways in which families and citizens can access public services.”

Doherty: “It is not very convenient for parents.”

When the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon appeared before the Public Accounts Committee last week – on foot of her examination of the PSC and her finding that it was unlawful for the State to require people to have a card in order to obtain any services beyond those offered by the Department of Social Protection – Ms Dixon said the following about the National Childcare Scheme and the PSC stipulation:

“The only alternative option that appears to be offered is a manual, paper-based application that will not be ready until the new year and will not provide back payments. Clearly, this is completely at odds with the findings of our report and the directions we have issued.”

Read back in full here

Yesterday: Card Shark

9 thoughts on “‘Why Did The Department Interject?’

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Aye, but Tesco and Facebook make you aware of its legal terms and where your data could be sent. The PSC card doesn’t. In fact FG have a record of trying to make your data into something tradeable for instance, when they were caught out in the IW terms, which stated that the data could be shared with third parties, and held offshore. As well, on top of that, it was brought to attention of the EU that IW itself was planned to be re-sold. We don’t know if that’s still the case, but sure the Broadband ‘plan’ is a good substitution? eh?

    1. eoin

      I think you’ve stumbled onto something major there Liz! Helen Dixon, the Data Protection Commissioner, is a Shinner. Shane Ross the transport minister who u-turned on the requirement of the PSC for driving documents is a Shinner. Simon Coveney, the foreign affairs minister who u-turned on the requirement of the PSC for passports is a Shinner. Charlie Flanagan, the justice minister who u-turned on the requirement of the PSC for citizenship applications is a Shinner. They’re everywhere Liz!

      1. Elizabeth Mainwaring

        Disturbing news!
        Do you think they may have infiltrated Milltown Golf Club as well?

  1. Mr.Fart

    whenever a FGer says they or their colleague is “working on” something .. they most definetely are not working on anything. If they are, it’s working on looking like theyre working on something. All just buying time until the idiot electorate forget about it. which they consistantly do every time.

  2. Cian

    DPER, the people that manage public spending, told DCYA not to spend (waste) money on duplicating an online authentication system but to use an existing one. This is literally what DPER is supposed to do.

    The government had advice that this use of the PSC is legal, so there is nothing wrong with DPER’s advice.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      Funny that Donohue wasn’t able to say that? Stop being an apologist Cian. How long would it take to draft up an application document and send it out?. And why not be able to backdate a paper application if the state can’t gets it act together. In fact, such a document could be downloaded if it was published. How many people does it take the State to create an application form? 60,001.1 to hold the pen static while the other 60,000 move the paper.

      Discrimination actually when you think of it.

      1. Cian

        “Solutions that are the first thing you think of, look sensible and are easy to implement are often terrible, ineffective solutions that will cause suffering.”

        Off the top of my head, the issue with a paper application form isn’t actually the production of the form, but the processing of it. And it isn’t just the form that needs to be processed, but also the accompanying documentation. And you remember GDPR? it’s a pain. All these paper forms and associated documents are sensitive information and need to be treated as such (identification, proof-of-address, bank details, … all on paper). And then there needs to be process management to deal with the incomplete forms, the illegible forms, the completed forms with insufficient documentation… and all that needs to be managed in a GDPR compliant fashion.

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