Tag Archives: Public Services Card

From top: Public Services Card; Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone (left); Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon

This morning.

In The Irish Examiner.

Cianan Brennan reports that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs still hasn’t replied to a near two-week-old request from the Data Protection Commissioner for information concerning the controversial Public Services Card and the new National Childcare Scheme.

The scheme was scheduled to begin at the end of this month but now won’t begin until November.

Mr Brennan reports:

“The commissioner’s query concerns the requirement for all applicants to the new scheme to hold a public services card, which is perceived as being at odds with the commissioner ’s recent finding that mandating citizens to hold a PSC in order to access State services other than welfare is illegal.

“…The department has become something of an outlier since the publication of the commissioner’s report into the PSC on September 17, as the majority of other departments have since dropped their mandatory PSC requirement, despite Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty’s stated intention to legally challenge the commissioner’s rulings.”

Anyone?

Department yet to reply to Public Services Card info request (Cianan Brennan, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: House Of Card

‘Iarnród Éireann Used The Public Services Card To Collect The Information’

‘It Would Be In The Circuit Court So It Probably Wouldn’t Be Very Expensive’

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, T.D. speaking at the budget 2020 Press Conference in Government Buildings; Department of Justice press conference this morning

This morning.

It was thought that when the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe delivered Budget 2020 yesterday, no increase in funding was announced for the Data Protection Commission – which may soon be facing the State in court.

In light of this, solicitor and data protection expert Simon McGarr tweeted this morning:

“Greyhound racing gets an increase on €16m funding. The entire 100+ staffed DPC office gets €15.2m, no increase.

“For some reason the Dept in charge of the Public Services Card project didn’t increase funding for the regulator, despite huge work increase post-GDPR.”

However…

Irish Independent journalist Hugh O’Connell, at a Department of Justice Budget 2020 press conference this morning, tweetz:

For those asking, the government’s funding for the Data Protection Commissioner’s office is up by €1.6m next year.

Total budget of €16.9m for 2020.

The Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon recently found there is no legal basis for the State demanding the use of the Public Services Card in order to access a range of public services beyond social welfare payments.

Ms Dixon ordered that Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty’s department stop issuing new PSCs, with immediate effect, to people seeking a service outside of her department.

She also ordered that the department delete the supporting documentation – such as utility bills, etc – that the department has retained on the 3.2million card holders.

Ms Doherty is categorical her department will not be complying with these orders and has said the State will challenge the findings of Ms Dixon – in court, if needs be.

This morning…

Cianan Brennan, in The Irish Examiner, reported:

“The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection did not share the interim adversarial findings of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) regarding the Public Services Card (PSC) with any affected bodies apart from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

This was despite being specifically asked and in a position to do so.”

Social Protection slow to share draft report on PSC (Cianan Brennan, The Irish Examiner)

Meanwhile…

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has launched a petition calling for the card to be stopped and for data retained to be deleted.

The petition can be signed here

Related: Twitter and Facebook could be facing billions in fines after Ireland investigations (CNBC)

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; Washington Post

Um.

Loughlin O’Nolan tweetz:

The Public Services Card has made Bloomberg and the Washington Post. Not in a good way either.

Emmanuel Macron wants to scan your face (Washington Post)

Meanwhile…

Previously: Public Services Card on Broadsheet

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

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 Public Services Card in October 2016

The new National Childcare Scheme will take effect on October 29.

It will see parents applying for subsidies in person rather than through their childcare provider.

The only way parents can apply for the subsidies will be through MyGovID – for which you need a Public Services Card.

Further to this, Cianan Brennan, in The Irish Examiner, reports:

From the scheme’s inception, as previously reported by the Irish Examiner, the only way to apply for those subsidies will be via MyGovID, the online face of the PSC, which requires the individual verification of each cardholder.

A postal application option is slated to go live in late January 2020 —however, subsidies will not be backdated.

It can now be revealed that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), the lead body behind the expansion of the card to services such as passport applications, ordered the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) to drop a secondary online authentication method so that MyGovID would be the only application portal available.

Alternative to PSC for childcare shut off in 2018 (Cianan Brennan, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: ‘Iarnród Éireann Used The Public Services Card To Collect The Information’

Rollingnews

Public Services Card; Heuston Station in Dublin

This afternoon.

During the Public Accounts Committee meeting, during which the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon fielded questions about the controversial Public Services Card…

The committee’s chairman Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming spoke about the experience of one of his constituents with their PSC.

He said:

“As TDs, I’m sure we all run into different constituents with different problems but a particular person I met had the travel pass as part of their social welfare card, they could present it and go on Iarnród Éireann and present it as the case may be because they were a carer.

“But a point came when they were no longer a carer.

“But they kept using the card and they weren’t carers. They weren’t entitled to use the card, but the card was still working.

“So about four or five months later they got a bill from Iarnród Éireann for about €1,048 and it listed all the dates that they’d used the card since, in their opinion, they were no longer deemed to be a carer.

“So they used that information, Iarnród Éireann used the Public Services Card to collect the information in relation to the number of trips the person made on the train.

“And one day they arrived in Heuston Station and they couldn’t get through the gate because Iarnród Éireann had obviously been in touch with Social Protection.”

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy suggested Iarnród Éireann presumably sought reimbursement from the Department of Social Protection for the trips taken and were subsequently paid for some trips and not for others.

Mr McCarthy said:

“Social protection would have no way of knowing what journeys were being taken.”

Mr Fleming again suggested Iarnród Éireann sought and obtained information from the Department of Social Protection.

Ms Dixon responded:

“We’d be very interested in looking at that in the context of the findings we’re about to issue…We’d be very happy to receive details on that in the context of what we’re looking at.”

Mr Fleming added that he doesn’t believe the case he referred to was an isolated case.

Anyone?

Earlier: The Irish Taxpayer May Have To Pay ‘By Virtue Of These Companies Being Headquartered Here’

Meanwhile, At The Public Accounts Committee

Public Services Card; Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee this morning; the Public Accounts Committee

This morning.

The Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon is appearing before the Public Accounts Committee.

It follows Ms Dixon finding that there is no legal basis for the State demanding the use of the Public Services Card in order to access a range of public services beyond social welfare payments.

Ms Dixon ordered that Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty’s department stop issuing new PSCs, with immediate effect, to people seeking a service outside of her department, and that it delete the supporting documentation – such as utility bills, etc – that the department has retained on the 3.2million card holders.

Ms Doherty is categorical her department will not be complying with these orders and has said the State will challenge the findings of Ms Dixon – in court, if needs be.

Meanwhile…

Irish Times journalist Jack Horgan-Jones has obtained documents [above], under the Freedom of Information Act, outlining radio ads that the Road Safety Authority planned to use but scrapped.

It’s understood they were scrapped after Minister for Transport Shane Ross announced in May 2018 that applicants for the driver theory test would not have to produce a PSC to satisfy identification requirements, reportedly after the Attorney General told the minister such a mandatory requirement was not legal.

This is despite Minister Doherty saying over the past few weeks that the State will challenge the findings of the DPC based on “incredibly strong” advice from the Attorney General.

Asked about Mr Ross’s announcement, Ms Doherty told the Dáil last night:

“I cannot say why the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, said what he said other than to say I am not responsible for the delivery of policy…

“I cannot say why he said what he said. I am only responsible for delivery of policy in my Department. I do not know if he got legal advice and to answer the same question, I do not know if the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade got legal advice on its policy formation.”

Watch the Public Accounts Committee proceedings live here

Public Services Card; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty

Further to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and Minister Regina Doherty publishing the Report of the Data Protection Commission on the Public Services Card last week…

And her department’s intention to challenge the DPC’s findings on the card based on “incredibly strong legal” advice

Dr Eoin O’Dell, a Fellow and Associate Professor at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin, wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post:

The government’s misguided approach has the capacity to do great damage to Ireland’s reputation as a good location for international tech companies to establish their European headquarters.

A government in such open conflict with the DPC [Data Protection Commission] can have no credibility in seeking to ensure that such companies comply with the commission’s decisions.

Worse, it risks fostering the view that a company unhappy with an unfavourable DPC decision could seek government help to resist that decision.

…This is not the first time that government departments have run afoul of data protection laws.

In 2011, the commission found that blood samples from babies’ heel-prick tests were being unlawfully retained, but in 2013 the Minister for Health ordered the HSE not to comply with the commission’s determination.

The Department of Education has continued with its controversial plans, unveiled in 2014, to collect extensive profiles of all children in education and store that data until they turn 30, notwithstanding the commission’s misgivings.

Dealing from bottom of the deck on the Public Services Card (Eoin O’Dell, The Sunday Business Post)

Previously: The Regina Monologues

Rollingnews

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon

This afternoon.

In the Dáil…

In response to questions about the Public Services Card from Sinn Féin, the Taoiseach spoke glowingly about the PSC – telling the Dáil he himself has a PSC.

It follows the eventual publication of a damning Data Protection Commission report about the card by Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty last night and her department’s refusal to comply with the DPC’s orders in relation to the card.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that “like the majority of people in this House”, he’s a “big supporter” of the PSC and he thinks it’s worked “extremely well”.

He added:

“Over three million people in Ireland now have a Public Services Card, including me, and when people are asked what they think about the Public Services Card that they have, over 80 per cent of people are satisfied with it and prefer it to what they would have had before which would have been a number of different books and passes – pension books, children’s allowance books, free travel passes, social welfare services cards – it’s replaced all of those and given people one simple card which enables them to access public services.”

“And that’s exactly what the Public Services Card is. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s what it was intended to be in 1998 and in 2005 when it was introduced in legislation. It’s there to assist people to access public services  and to make public services more efficient to deliver.

“It is not primarily about fraud but it does have benefits in terms of deterrence, reducing fraud aswell but it’s primary purpose is to make it easier for people to access the public services and benefits that they’re entitled too and also makes it possible to be more efficient for Government departments and agencies and to provide those public services.”

“…in terms of legal advice, it’s not our practice to publish legal advice, either from the AG [Attorney General] or outside counsel, we won’t be doing that. But obviously, if this case goes to the court, goes to the circuit court or the High Court thereafter then of course that legal advice will be made public at that point and that is normal procedure when it comes to litigation.”

He later added:

“…In relation to the National Childcare Scheme, as you know, that’s coming into effect later this year to provide increased subsidies for childcare for tens of thousands of families across the State and for the first time about 10,000 middle income families will qualify for childcare subsidies for the first time. The vast majority of these families, about 80 per cent, have the Public Services Card already and will be able to apply for those subsidies and increased subsidies online.

“And I think the vast majority of them will do that because they will see the convenience of just being able to take out your Public Services Card, apply for those childcare subsidies online and get those subsidies without going through the rigmarole of filling in forms, getting in photographs, producing banks statements and all of that. However, for those who want to, that option will be available.

“So, there will be an option for those who don’t want to get a Public Services Card. But mark my words – people will vote with their feet and their keyboards and the vast majority of those parents will use the Public Services Card to apply for that subsidy because it makes sense.

“Moving online, digitisation is the future, providing public services to people in this country but the alternative will be there.”

Mr Varadkar went on to say that the department has yet to receive an enforcement order from the DPC and that the DPC has declined an invitation to meet with Ms Doherty’s department.

He also said “this is a democracy” and “the right of appeal is part of a democracy”.

Watch live here

Earlier: The Regina Monologues

RTÉ’s Mary Wilson; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe; Public Services Card

Last night.

On RTÉ’s Drive Time.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty was interviewed by Mary Wilson following the publication, by her department, of the Data Protection Commission’s report into the Public Services Card.

Before their interview began, listeners heard a clip of an interview the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon had with RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan last month – during which Ms Dixon spoke about what the DPC had ordered Ms Doherty’s department to do.

These orders included that Ms Doherty’s department had to stop issuing new cards, with immediate effect, to people seeking a service that’s outside of her department – and Ms Dixon asked that the department write to her within 21 days to outline how the department carried out that order.

The DPC also ordered that the department delete the supporting documentation – such as utility bills, etc – that the department had retained on the 3.2million card holders. Ms Doherty was to write to Ms Dixon about that within six weeks.

But last night, Ms Doherty was categorical that her department will not be complying with these orders.

From last night’s interview:

Mary Wilson: “You heard what the Data Protection Commissioner said there. She said that on the 16th of August. Have you complied with all of those directions?”

Regina Doherty: “Well, I think, as is on the record, we took a number of weeks to consider the votes, the letter that the commission sent us and the report with all of its eight findings. And the simple and short answer to your question is ‘no’. Because we don’t agree with any of the eight findings and we have written to the commission to outline that.”

Wilson: “So, where to now?”

Doherty: “Well I suppose the position is that we’ve made, we’ve reacted to the instructions that the Data Protection Commission gave us in the letter of the 15th. We’ve requested a meeting, on a number of occasions, to see if we could establish. There are some inconsistencies with regard to the findings and the instructions in the letter and some of…”

Wilson: “Like what?”

Doherty: “It’s kind of technical, it’s…”

Wilson: “Well, we need to get technical, minister then because this is a damning report on your department and the operation of the Public Services Card and your response is that you’ve got problems with some complicated issues or fair procedures.”

Doherty: “No, well, actually, that’s not what I said. And our response I think is very clear and unambiguous, in so far as that we disagree and the legal advice that we’ve obtained, from the Attorney General, is that we have an incredibly strong legal basis to do exactly what was set out in the 1998 legislation, established in the 2005 legislation and amended thereafter in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.

“And so we’re not trying to be ambiguous in any way, shape or form. Which is why we’ve been as transparent as we have been today – not only to publish the findings and the report from the Data Protection Commission but to publish the correspondence that’s gone on between ourselves and the commission since then.

“I’ll give you a small example of the difference between the findings in the report and the instructions in the letter.

“One of the findings in the report is that we, should not, under Data Protection law, retain data indefinitely. I’m not sure what the legal definition of indefinitely means but the instructions in the Data Protection Commission’s letter is that we have to immediately delete all of the data that we hold on people, even for people who’ve only got a PSC card last week.”

Wilson: “Supporting documentation, minister.”

Doherty: “That’s correct, yeah.”

Wilson: “Not the name, and so on, it’s the supporting documentation…”

Doherty: “So to be clear, Mary, that data set…”

Wilson: “…the data sent to get the card.”

Doherty: “The data set is entirely different to the supporting documentation and the discrepancy or the inconsistency is with regard to the supporting documentation. And that’s only one example. But unfortunately, we haven’t been able to meet with the Data Protection Commission staff and that’s why we are where we are today which is why we’re publishing the report…”

Wilson: “So, just to be clear before you move on. Just to be clear before you move on. You will not be getting rid of or eliminating or destroying the supporting documentation that you retain on 3.2million people who’ve received the card?”

Doherty: “No, Mary, because our advice is that it would be illegal and so if I acted as the directions in the Data Protection Commission’s letter has suggested, I would actually be contravening the legislation that underpins the practice and the policy as far as 1998 and that would be illegal.

“And that’s the advice that I have. And with respect to my role and my job, which is defending the delivery of services, in an efficient manner, to the public which we serve, we regard the legal basis underpinning this service to be incredibly strong.”

Wilson: “Will you stop any demand for the Public Service Card for the delivery of services other than welfare services?”

Doherty: “So, to say again, Mary. The eight findings, in its entirety, are not accepted by ourselves in Government and so we won’t be complying with any of the instructions with regard to the findings or the instructions in the letter.”

Wilson: “Spell that out for the public. When I go to apply for a passport now, are you going to ask for a Public Services Card?”

Doherty: “So, to spell it out for the public, in so far as 3.2million people in Ireland already have data, or PCS [sic] cards. Anybody that doesn’t have one is usually invited to come in and be registered under the SAFE 2 process and that allows them access. All of the public services across Government departments, on a once and done basis, and so what you would be suggesting that we do, is to go back and asking people to fill out forms in triplicate, across a number of departments…”

Wilson: “No, no, no. I asked a simple question: what are people to do now if they’re applying for a passport and they’re asked for a Public Services Card?”

Doherty: “Exactly as they always have done.”

Wilson: “What are people to do if they’re applying for their [driving] theory test? For their driver’s, their learner permit? And they’re asked for a Public Services Card? Are you saying it’s mandatory of compulsory or which? That they produce it?”

Doherty: “In most cases, in most cases, Mary, across all of Government departments, with maybe the exception of my own, there are different ways that you can apply for services and so there is a long-form way. And so, for argument’s sake, you can go and you can get your forms filled out in triplicate and bring your passport or driving licence…”

Wilson: “So you’re fudging it?”

Doherty: “No, I’m not. That’s a way that you can go and access services. The efficient way for people to access services is those who have a PSC card can do most of their conversing with the State online. And that still is true.

“So for people who don’t have a PSC card, nobody is absolutely going to make them get one but for those people who do have and want to deal with the State efficiently then, you know, 3.2million people tell us nine out of ten people, we conducted a survey…which tells us that it does actually make the transactional engagement much more efficient…”

Wilson: “What you’re saying is ‘we’ll make it so difficult for people to interact with the services that it’s going to be the only way forward’.”

Doherty: “No, no…no, no…”

Wilson: “That is what you’ll be doing.”

Doherty: “No, Mary, it’s not making it any more difficult. It’s just maintaining the way it always was….which was cumbersome.”

Wilson: “Meanwhile…meanwhile we have a report that you’re rejecting in full – all of the findings. And where are you going now? What is the next step?”

Doherty: “Well the next step is that we have to wait for the Data Protection Commission to enforce the findings, if they so wish. And because at the moment we don’t have anything that we can legally appeal. So I suppose we await for the Data Protection Commission to send us an enforcement notice.”

Wilson: “So you say ‘the ball is in your court, Helen Dixon’.”

Doherty: “Well, that’s just the reality, Mary so…”

Wilson: “The ball has been in your court since, was it August 2017 you got the draft report?”

Doherty: “No, I think it was that, that was the year the commission started their investigation and so…”

Wilson: “OK, you knew about the concerns since 2017. When did you first receive the draft findings of the Data Commissioner?”

Doherty: “So, in August of 2018, we received a draft report from the commission which we responded to comprehensively in November of 2018.”

Wilson: “The réponses – did they run to hundreds of pages?”

Doherty: “They did, yeah, they did.”

Wilson: “And at that point, did you inform your Cabinet colleagues of the content of that report?”

Doherty: “Well the first instruction from the Data Protection Commission was that the report was to be treated as private and confidential and wasn’t to be shared with anybody. We sought permission from the commission to share it with the Department of Public Expenditure, given that they are joint responsible for the roll-out of national services on an e-Government basis. That permission was granted and both myself, my department, and DPER compiled a very comprehensive response to the initial findings in the draft report and that did run to some 170 pages. And that was returned to the commission in November 2018.”

Wilson: “And where do you see this going though? You say you’re waiting for an enforcement order to come from the data commissioner. Do you then take it to the courts? What is the protocol? I don’t know what the process is here? What is the Attorney General advising you to do?”

Doherty: “So again it very much depends what’s in the enforcement notice and, given that we haven’t seen it yet, it’s difficult for me to be precise.”

Wilson: “But what are the options?”

Doherty: “In normal circumstances, if an enforcement notice was issued to a department that it didn’t agree with, it would take an appeal of that enforcement notice. In this particular case, it would probably start in the Circuit Court. The other possibility is to conduct a judicial review but, again, without seeing what’s in the enforcement notice, it’s a bit difficult to be precise.”

Wilson: “Would you want to expedite this quickly?”

Doherty: “Well look I’m very comfortable with the fact that the legal advice that I have given, gives me confidence that we are doing exactly what was established and set out as far back as 1998 and, as I said, it’s been reinforced in various different pieces of legislation by various different ministers for social protection and employment affairs.”

Wilson: “But it’s starting down the road now of legal challenges. You could be accused of kicking the can down the road and avoiding doing what you ultimately  you may have to do anyway.”

Doherty: “But how could I kick the can down the road of doing something I have no intentions of doing because I have no, because I don’t agree with it? And so where I have legal basis is, is that the legislation that was established in 1998, reformed in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 and 2013 gives me robust legal basis to conduct the Government policy across any Government platform as was envisaged…”

Talk over each other

Wilson: “And you know as well that lawyers will differ and judge will ultimately in a court will have to decide and then ultimately you may have to accept an outcome contrary to what you believe yourself.”

“In any event, there is also another process now where the [Irish] Examiner is reporting today about the second generation of the Public Service Card. A further two million or so cards that are going to be processed. Is that continuing? Is that tender, is that contract signed? Is that tender done and those cards being prepared?”

Doherty: “There’s no iteration of a new version of card, I’m not sure where the Examiner is getting its information from. The Public Services Card is being renewed, the contract has just been renewed with a new agency to do what will be our second generation but it’s just the lifespan of a Public Service Card is seven years. We’ve come to the end of that and are starting a new card. I’m not sure, I haven’t seen the article in the Examiner so…”

Wilson: “I presume the new card will have more and varied capacity or ability…”

Doherty: “Well, there’s no plan in the legislation to have…”

Wilson: “You can tap it?”

Doherty: “No.”

Wilson: “That’s not going to be on the card?”

Doherty: “Well, it’s not in the current legislation so I can’t see why we would…”

Wilson: “And how much  are you spending now on the, the additional 2.6million cards?”

Doherty: “Again, it’s not additional spending. The project that was envisaged in as to roll out in 2005, sought to actually ensure that everybody was identified and registered under the Safe 2 process. The PCS process is a by-product of that, it’s only a token that’s given at the end of the identification and authentication process.”

Wilson: “And what’s it costing?”

Doherty: “Well, at the moment, I think we’ve just spent over €60million. I think that’s a very good and strong investment in the delivery of public services.”

Wilson: “We don’t know that yet. You actually don’t know that yet. You’re going to challenge the Data Commissioner’s findings so, ultimately, this will go through the courts. And, ultimately, that €60million, plus additional funding that you may continue to spend, could be money down the drain.”

Doherty: “I tell you what I do know, Mary, is that 3.2million people have taken the time to come in and get themselves identified and registered until the Safe Two process because they want and value to be able to do they business online, in an efficient and quick manner…”

Wilson: “Perhaps because they were told that it was compulsory and mandatory to get it by you.”

Doherty: “Well, they’re not,  they were invited in. And actually I think if you look at the finding of the one, of the first finding in the Data Protection [Commission’s] eight findings is that she has entirely deemed it legal for the Department of Social Welfare and Employment Affairs…”

Wilson: “She has…the only department that it is legal to use..”

Doherty: “…And..that’s the department that we were talking…”

Wilson: “And do you accept, you accept that finding?”

Doherty: “To go back to what I was saying to you a second ago is that we have 3.2million people who have registered extremely high satisfaction rates with the usage of the card. They value it and…it’s my job to make sure that I continue to provide those services in an efficient manner for the people that we serve.”

Wilson: “Minister Regina Doherty, thank you for joining us.”

Listen back in full here

Meanwhile..