Tag Archives: Regina Doherty

Minister for finance Paschal Donohoe (top right) and  Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection, Regina Doherty, brief the media at Government Buildings this afternoon.

The €350 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will become two-tiered from June 29, with people who were earning less than €200 per week before the outbreak of Covid-19 set to drop to €203 per week.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty today announced that the payment will continue until Phase 5 of the road map for reopening the economy on August 10, but it will be split from the beginning of Phase 3 in just over three weeks.

Pandemic unemployment payment to be cut for part-time workers from June 29 (irish Examiner)


Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty at a Covid-19 press briefing in Government Buildings last month

This afternoon.

In a press released issued by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, minister Regina Doherty said:

“Between our Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, those on the Live Register and workers who are benefitting from the wage subsidy scheme, over a million people are receiving some sort of state income support – a situation unparalleled in our nation’s history.

“This is a temporary health emergency and many sectors of the economy will be able to switch back on relatively quickly once the danger has passed.

“However, some sectors will be slower than others to recover and we will also have a challenge with youth employment as many young people who could have expected to have entered a buoyant jobs market will now face a much more complex environment.

“Understanding this, my Department is already planning for the post-pandemic environment and considering the best measures to help every worker to get back into the labour force as quickly as possible.”

Update on Payments Awarded for Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment And Enhanced Illness Benefit (Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection)


Fianna Fail Justice Spokesman Jim O’Callaghan (left) and Regina Doherty, Fine Gael Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection

This morning.

Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan and Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.

It followed a front-page story in today’s Irish Independent, by Shane Phelan, about Mr O’Callaghan having previously represented former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Mr O’Callaghan accused Ms Doherty as having been “wheeled out” by Fine Gael’s press office while Ms Doherty repeatedly said it was all about “trust”.

From the interview…

Jim O’Callaghan: “This applies to every barrister in the country. You’re obliged to represent a person who seeks your legal services simply because you’re doing that doesn’t mean you’re endorsing their politics.”

Seán O’Rourke: “Are you saying then, if you were to decline the offer…barristers all the time decline certain offers of work for various reasons. Are you saying had you declined the opportunity to work for Gerry Adams, you would have been discriminating against him?”

O’Callaghan: “Can I say this to you as well, you will know, as well Seán, from your knowledge of the law, that I am not permitted to talk about individual cases. But I can talk to you in the generality about it. It’s a breach of the constitution for me to talk about individual cases. But can I say this: if somebody seeks your legal services and the way the system of justice operates in this country, is that if somebody, a solicitor, comes to a barrister, looking for that barrister to represent a client, the barrister must act. Unless there is some reason as to why the barrister cannot act.

“And when people approach me, whether it’s the Fine Gael ministers or indeed Sinn Féin politicians, or SDLP politicians, I will represent them to the best of my ability. And obviously things have changed since I became a TD in 2016.

“And now because I’m a national spokesperson it would be more difficult for me to represent certain people because it would probably be against their interest to help me represent them. But, listen, if Regina Doherty ever gets into legal difficulties, I’d be happy to represent her to the same way I represented previous Fine Gael TDs and Fine Gael ministers in the past.”

O’Rourke: “Regina Doherty?”

Regina Doherty: “Now there’s an offer, Seán, ha? You know what, I have huge respect from Jim and he is an eminent barrister and has a huge reputation and that’s not to be taken away. But the code of conduct does also allow whether a conflict of interest, or a likely conflict of interest might arise, for someone to step away from the case.

“But what we have here is a case of Fianna Fáil want us to do what they say not what they do. And you just said Seán, that the consistent message coming from Fianna Fáil, that they won’t go into Government with Sinn Féin.

“Unfortunately that’s not the case. We have a long litany of people in Fianna Fáil that have said over the last number of years that they will go into Government with Sinn Féin…”

O’Rourke: “No but can we discuss that…

Talk over each other

O’Rourke: “No, sorry, Regina O’Doherty, can we just confine this conversation to Jim O’Callaghan representing Gerry Adams and what that might mean for Fianna Fáil going into Government with Sinn Féin if it means that at all.”

Doherty: “What’s important about this, Seán, is that you have to be able to trust in what people say. Before people go to the door, or go to the ballot box on Saturday or they make that decision, I think that’s fair for them to know, can they trust what Fianna Fáil say and is it fair for Jim O’Callaghan to come out and lambaste Sinn Féin for their policies and for their past, political manoeuvres and seemingly be able to take their coin and do their work.

“And it’s not just Jim, to be fair. It’s John McGuinness, it’s Kevin O’Keeffe, it’s Mary Butler. Even Micheál Martin himself, in December 2017, said he’s not saying ‘never’ about going into Government with Sinn Féin. So the only people you can trust here that absolutely, unequivocally will not go into Government with Sinn Féin is Fine Gael.”

O’Rourke: “Jim O’Callaghan?”

O’Callaghan: “Well I think, with all due respect to Regina. This is a fairly low blow. They’re trying to conflate work done by a barrister who subsequently becomes a politician with work done as a politician. Under no circumstances will Fianna Fáil be going into Government with Sinn Féin.

“Simply because in the past I have represented Sinn Féin politicians, does not mean that I’m going to be saying to Micheál Martin ‘let’s go into Government with them’. Just as because I represented Fine Gael politicians in the past doesn’t mean I’m going to say to Micheál Martin ‘let us get in with Fine Gael’. The reality is and the public understand this. The function of a barrister is to represent fearlessly the person who seeks their legal services. And when you’re asked to represent somebody, you must represent somebody.”

O’Rourke: “Are you saying this, Jim O’Callaghan, are there two of you? I mean there’s Jim O’Callaghan the barrister and Jim O’Callaghan the politician.”

O’Callaghan: “Well, no. There aren’t two of me. There’s one of me. But I did have a life before politics, unlike some people in politics and I do have experience working as a barrister and the administration of justice. And I think that it’s extremely important for the administration of justice that we do not have a situation in this country that operates say in the United States, where lawyers become very partisan and lawyers will only represent people with whom they feel an affinity. And what happens then is that you get lawyers making public comments about their clients.

“We don’t do that in this country and it is very important that the independence of the Bar is maintained. Any person who represents, I represent, I’m not affected in any way by their representation of them. My politics aren’t represented by my representation of them and my views aren’t represented…”

O’Rourke: “And did you…”

Talk over each other

Callaghan: “I’ll just finish this Seán. I was asked to do a job in the same way, for instance, if a patient goes into Dr James Reilly or into Dr Leo Varadkar and sought treatment – that patient is entitled and would get the best treatment from those doctors because those are acting professionally.

“Similarly, anyone who comes to me, irrespective of their politics, if they come seeking my legal services. I give them the best treatment possible.”

O’Rourke: “And there’s also the point, Regina O’Doherty, that, according to the Independent, Jim O’Callaghan began representing Gerry Adams in 2015, when he was not a member of Dáil Éireann.”

Doherty: “Which is why, in the code of interest, the conflict of interest, or the likely arrival of a conflict of interest is a reason that you would refute the case. Jim was desperately attempting to be a TD in 2015 and [inaudible]. This is about trust, Seán.”

O’Rourke: “No, no, hold on a tick, now. I mean, just the point he makes…on the point he makes: you know, would Leo Varadkar, in his days as a doctor, have refused somebody who came in looking for treatment simply because that was a Sinn Féin person?”

Doherty: “No, but Leo Varadkar is not going out the next day and lambasting the people that’s he representing. That’s the difference here. So you have to ask yourself the question: can you trust Fianna Fáil when they tell you that they won’t go into Government with Fianna Fáil, or with Sinn Féin?”

“When they are consistently telling you, Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, Darragh O’Brien, Anne Rabbite, you know there’s a reason Micheál Martin is a sole trader in this general election campaign. It’s because you can’t trust the Fianna Fáilers to be let out on the plinth because they let the cat out of the bag.”

“This is all about trust….”

O’Rourke: “Regina O’Doherty, just as a matter of interest, I mean are you, as a Fine Gael TD, are you accusing Jim O’Callaghan of double jobbing as well?”

Doherty: “No, I think there’s lots of TDs who have jobs. I think the only people who are precluded from having a job, a second job, are actual ministers. So that’s not an issue…”

O’Rourke: “Ok.”

Doherty: “This is about trust, Seán.”

O’Callaghan: “I’m sorry. This is about politics. This is about a general election taking place on Saturday. This is about a story coming out the day in advance of the general election. And it’s difficult for me, Seán. Because I’m not allowed to comment upon individual cases. So that means I can’t really dispute Regina’s claim that there’s a conflict of interest here, you know, the circumstances of the case in which I previously represented a person.

“I’m not going to talk about the case but all I would say is the public is aware that a barrister is asked to represent a client and does so without fear or favour and without any concern for the politics of clients.

“And that is something that we need to maintain in our independent legal system.”

O’Rourke: “And before you go mentioning Pat ‘The Cope’ and all the rest…”

Talk over each other

Doherty: “…and I won’t list off the names because I think they’re well rehearsed. A barrister is also justified when [inaudible] a case, where there is a conflict of interest arises or likely to arise.

“And I think Jim, in fairness, in 2013 you were on the ticket to be a Fianna Fáil TD in your constituency and you were successful in the 2016 election. [Inaudible]. I didn’t write the story this morning, I don’t know who did. But this is about a matter of trust and whether you can be trusted to say what you do. You need to walk the walk and talk the talk.

“So that’s what this is about.”

O’Callaghan: “Well now, Regina, you talk about a conflict of interest. You can’t state what it is. People come to me, all the time, looking for…

Talk over each other

Doherty: “No, what it is is you’re saying one thing and doing another. That’s what it is. It’s immaterial what the court case is about, Jim.”

O’Callaghan: “Regina, you know…”

Doherty: “The court case is irrelevant, this is about you. This is about whether you’re willing to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. That’s what this is about.”

O’Callaghan: “Regina you’ve just been sent out by Fine Gael press office to try and inflict some damage upon me…”

Doherty: “Excuse me, do not dare insult me…”

O’Callaghan: “I’m not trying to insult you.”

Doherty: “I am a public representative for 11 years and I’m well entitled to make representations on my own behalf and on the people who are going to vote on Saturday because you’re dead right: this is about the election on Saturday. But it’s about whether people can trust Fianna Fáil when they say they won’t go into Government with Sinn Féin.

“Because it’s clear now that they can’t. And you’re not on your own Jim. You’ve a long list of your colleagues who’ll go into power with Sinn Féin because they don’t really care who they go in with. They just want power.”


O’Rourke: “Is there an element of desperation with Fine Gael wanting to score political points on this today?”

Doherty: “Who broke the story Seán? Because I don’t know who broke the story. I only reacted to it at about 6.30am, 6.45am this morning.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, by Shane Phelan [Irish Independent journalist] who broke another important story about Fine Gael which was the Maria Bailey story about six or eight months ago.”

Doherty: “So clearly he’s a very good journalist.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, but I mean, in reacting to it…”

Talk over each other


O’Rourke: “You’re drawing the conclusion that because Jim O’Callaghan worked as a barrister for Gerry Adams in a case that had nothing to do with politics, that therefore he cannot be trusted when he says ‘Fianna Fáil will not go into Government with Sinn Féin?”

Doherty: “The conclusion I’m drawing, Seán. Is that you have to talk the talk and walk the walk.”

O’Rourke: “There you are, Jim O’Callaghan?”

O’Callaghan: “Well I don’t really understand the point. Every day of the week, barristers represent people who are in trouble and who are perceived in a very negative light by the public. It is extremely important that those barristers continue to represent people who are before our courts.

“If they don’t, we end up having a marginalised justice system in this country. Like just because a barrister is representing somebody down in the criminal courts today it doesn’t mean that that barrister in some way is endorsing the criminal act of which they have been accused. Like it completely undermines the system of justice if you start imputing to a barrister representing a client the actions or background of that client.”


O’Rourke: “[After he became a TD] You could have handed over your brief to another colleague.”

O’Callaghan: “All I can say to you is: you don’t know what happened in the case that’s on the front page of the Irish Independent today after I became a TD and I can’t tell you because I have a duty of confidentiality and the code of conduct precludes me from talking in public.”

O’Rourke: “But can you see, perhaps even in appearance of hypocrisy here?”

O’Callaghan: “No, none whatsoever. Like there was a great barrister up in Northern Ireland called Des Boal, he represented very many people who were accused of membership of the provisional IRA. He was the founding member of the DUP. The legal system in this country has always operated on the basis that barristers, irrespective of their politics, will represent people from any background.

“And I know there aren’t senior counsel Fine Gael TDs at present but there was a long tradition of Fine Gael senior counsels who also operated as TDs and it was always the case that the Irish Bar, that if a Fianna Fáil minister was in difficulty, they would go and seek the advice of a Fine Gael senior counsel to represent them. That’s the tradition that exists in the Irish Bar.

“That you represent people, irrespective if you disagree with them or irrespective of whether their politics are different to yours. And it’s simply unfair and wrong for Fine Gael to suggest that, simply because I represented individuals who have different politics to me, that I now adopt the policies of those individuals.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: Well Now


Just before 2pm, when the radio and television moratorium on election coverage began, the Council of the Bar of Ireland released the following statement:

“It is the duty of barristers to be independent and free from any influence, especially such as may arise from their personal interests or external pressure, in the discharge of their professional duties as barristers.

“Barristers cannot discriminate in favour of or against any person availing, or seeking to avail, of the services of the barrister on the grounds of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language politics, religion, nationality, national or social origin, national minority, birth or other status.

“This is detailed in the Code of Conduct of The Bar of Ireland, to which all members of the independent referral bar are bound.

“It is in accordance with the provision that everyone is entitled to access to justice, which is central to trust in the Irish legal system and the rule of law.”

The fundamental importance of an independent referral bar (The Bar of Ireland)

From top: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe; Minister for Business Heather Humphreys; Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Ms Humphreys, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty and Mr Donohoe at City Assembly House, Dublin; Fine Gael tweet

Earlier today.

Fine Gael held a press conference at City Assembly House in Dublin to explain how the party will “support working families”, including their plans for childcare.

In Fine Gael’s manifesto, the party says the following in regards to childcare:

We know the pressures parents are under because of childcare costs. We have made progress – increasing investment from €265m in 2015 to €638m for 2020, up 141% – but we know people are still paying too much. We will reduce childcare costs further, increase quality and support the childcare sector.

Fine Gael has doubled the number of children benefiting from subsidies, doubled the number of places and doubled the free pre-school (ECCE) scheme through a significant investment.

In 2019, 175,000 children received average subsidies of €64 per week. More than 9,000 children are receiving the highest weekly subsidy of €145. Over the next five years, we will invest an extra €400 million, as we reduce childcare costs for parents and increase quality and accessibility. This will bring annual investment in childcare to more than €1 billion in 2025.


Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty

 Last night

on RTÉ’s Late Debate, hosted by Katie Hannon, the panel included Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty; former RTÉ broadcaster Valerie Cox, who is standing as an Independent candidate in Wicklow; Fianna Fáil’s John Lahart; Labour’s Kevin Humphreys and Daniel McConnell, of the Irish Examiner.

During the show, Ms Doherty repeated the above electoral promises.

Valerie Cox pointed out that many childminders cannot avail of State subsidies because of particular rules in regards to registering for these subsidies.

From the exchange:

Valerie Cox: “The Government are dealing with creches and making them the centre of childcare whereas I met Childminding Ireland the other day and these are people who mind children in their own homes.

“But what the Government has done to them is quite extraordinary really because they want to be vetted by gardai, they want to have all of the supports that the creches would have. But instead of that, the Government has decided that people who have children in their own home cannot be vetted and cannot register with Tusla, unless they’re minding a minimum of four children. And many people are only minding, you know, one, two, three.

“So that’s a very difficult thing for them. Yes, it’s very expensive, but probably better for children in many ways to be in somebody else’s home. Because if you’re commuting from Wicklow and you’re regularly commuting to Dublin or North Wicklow, the children are going to be there for a longer time. So probably the home environment is a very useful one for them to be in.”

Katie Hannon:Is that the case, Regina?

Regina Doherty:No. So if you look at the manifesto, the National Childcare Scheme that was announced and commenced last November is only for registered creches and registered childminders.

“But the pathway is to try and find a fine balance between what you just described, which is in the common good, of children being in a home, a family home, a home from home setting. But also ensuring that the governance that’s required by Tusla, that the certain standards and settings are required for. So we’re not going to pay taxpayers’ money without ensuring that the quality of care is of a standard that it needs to and we need to find a mechanism to be able to do that.”

Hannon: “Ok, but as it stands…”

Doherty: “That potentially is inviting those people to become registered because, at the moment…”

Cox: “But they want to be registered, but they can’t be registered…”

Doherty: “At the moment, we only have 81 registered providers in the country and that’s why Fianna Fáil want’s tax incentive to those registered providers is a real misnomer because it’s not going to work.”

Talk over each other

Hannon: “It’s not going to be a misnomer if, if, if…you’re saying that, as it stands, you have to be registered, you have to be Garda vetted, obviously, all of these things. But you’re saying that’s not the case? But in the next breadth you say, ‘well, it is now, but we’ve a pathway that we want to take’.”

Doherty: “No, so it’s not the case right now for the National Childcare Scheme that was announced in November.”

Hannon: “Yeah.”

Doherty: “What we’re going to ensure that we do over the course of the coming year is that with the extra €400m subsidy, is that we get it to the places that it’s needed the most which is into the pockets of the people who are paying the childcare fees to whomever they’re paying it for. But it has to be with a level of governance and a minimal acceptable standard…”

Hannon:So are you saying that those people, that Valerie is talking about, the people who are minding two and three children, maybe taking in an extra child because they’re stay-at-home parents themselves. That they will be…”

Doherty:Invited to be registered, if that’s the way we want to go in the future. You know, so there’s. What we want to make sure is that we get the available money that’s earmarked in our budget, the extra €400million that we’re going to spend on subvention to the parents of the families that are spending this extra mortgage every month.”

Hannon: “Ok.”

Doherty: “No, if that means we have to invite people who are registered, or who are unregistered at the moment, to become registered, well, we need to find a mechanism for brining those people into the system.”

Hannon: “But you haven’t found that mechanism yet?”

Doherty:No, we will be inviting them to become registered. At the moment, the restrictions are that they have to have a minimum number of children in order to be registered. Who says we just can’t change that?

John Lahart:But you’re the minister.”

Hannon: “So, you’re in Government. That’s what….the Government you’re a member of hasn’t changed it.”

Cox: “But that’s what Government does though, doesn’t it?

Doherty: “Absolutely indeed and we were the Government that…”

Listen back to Late Debate in full here



A fact-check carried out by the Business Post in relation to comments made by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty on RTÉ Radio One about the number of GPs in Ireland now compared to five years ago shows her information has been contradicted by the HSE and the Medical Council.

There you go now.

Election Factcheck (Business Post)

H/T: Susan Mitchell

Previously: Regina’s Gratuity

The Regina Monologues

A letter the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty sent to her constituents earlier this month

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty recently wrote a letter to her constituents in which she stated:

I ensured that tips in our hospitality sector are paid to employees and not withheld.”

However, last June…

The Irish Times reported:

A Bill to prevent employers deducting or withholding tips from employees has been passed by the Seanad despite Government opposition.

Senators voted by 25 to 14 on an amendment to the Sinn Féin National Minimum Wage (Protection of Employee Tips) Bill and then passed the Bill without a vote.

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan, who introduced the legislation, rejected as “completely wrong” claims by Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty that the legislation would result in tips being taxed under the PAYE system and would have knock-on negative effects on workers’ entitlements to social welfare supports.

…Independent Senator Michael McDowell sharply criticised Ms Doherty for putting a “money message” on the legislation, required for Bills that will have an impact on the exchequer.

He said it was an “absolutely threadbare and totally unacceptable suggestion” that it involves appropriating the public revenue.

Mr McDowell said that “in a society transforming itself to a cashless society it is wholly wrong that that entirely positive development is used as a licence to plunder workers’ pockets”.

There you go now.


Last Monday, before the election date was called, Ms Doherty was interviewed by Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke, during which she told Mr O’Rourke:

“Nobody ever reads manifestos during the election. Seán, you know that.”

Listen back to the interview in full here

Pic: One Galway


From top: Public Services Card, Data Protection Commission, panel on last night’s The Tonight Show, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty; Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates; Executive Director of Irish Council for Civil Liberties Liam Herrick

This morning…

Further to the Department of Social Protection lodging an appeal against an enforcement notice handed down by the Data Protection Commissioner in relation to the controversial Public Services Card…

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty told journalists that the department hopes the court case will be “done and dusted by March”.

The appeal challenges the findings of a two-year investigation into the card by the Data Protection Commissioner.

The commissioner Helen Dixon found there is no legal basis for anyone to have to present a Public Services Card in respect of any transaction between a person and a public body outside Ms Doherty’s department – such as obtaining a drivers’ licence, passport, education grants, etc.

She also found that the supporting information that 3.2 million card holders had to hand over in order to get their card – such as utility bills, proof of ID, etc – must be destroyed.

Last night, Ms Doherty was on the panel of Virgin Media One’s The Tonight Show with Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates.

Also on the panel was Executive Director of Irish Council for Civil Liberties Liam Herrick, Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Bríd Smyth and Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers.

From their discussion about the card which has cost the State €68million-plus to date…

Matt Cooper: “Regina Doherty, why are you doing this? The Data Protection Commission is an independent office, set up to do an important job and you have undermined it by appealing against an important decision it has made.”

Regina Doherty: “Yeah, I don’t think we’ve undermined the office and it isn’t the first time that we’ve appealed a decision and it certainly isn’t the first time other decisions from the commission’s office have been appealed.

“And the reason we have to appeal it is we don’t agree with the findings of the report in August. We don’t agree with the recommendations in the enforcement notice that was issued to us in December…”

Cooper:Which is to destroy all of the information that you have assembled?

Doherty: “Ehm. No. Because there is a difference between the report in August, the enforcement notice in December and a number of letters that happened between August and September.

“And so on the basis that we firmly believe that the route we’ve taken, and successive previous governments have been taken, with regard to the introduction of the legislation that supports the card. We’re gonna challenge the findings and see what a court has to say, so…”

Ivan Yates: “Couldn’t you have avoided all of this if you took the policy decision some time ago and said, upfront to the nation, we’re going  to have a national ID card. We’re going to provide a comprehensive legal basis for it, instead of trying to do it by creep, through the Department of Social Protection…”

Doherty: “But you see the problem with that…”

Yates: “And adding on these other things?”

Doherty: “But no, the problem with that, Ivan, is that it isn’t a national identity card. And so I agree with you. I think if there was any government that wanted to introduce a national identity card – for the record, I don’t agree with them and I don’t support one – but if I was of a mind, or a government was of a mind that they wanted to do that, yeah, they should have a public consultation and they should bring forward legislation and have, you know, a proper conversation about it.

“But this isn’t a national identity card. You can’t even use it as a national identity card…

Talk over each other

Cooper: “But hang on, haven’t you got it by stealth?”

Doherty: “…in any other form, you know, other than you access in government services.”

Cooper: “But hold on, your idea was, not just for claiming your social welfare entitlements…”

Doherty: “No it wasn’t…”

Cooper: “That was the initial idea…and then you were asked…”

Doherty: “Actually it wasn’t…”

Cooper: “…if you’re going for your driver’s licence or renewing your passport. And if you didn’t have it…I mean you had this line that ‘It wasn’t compulsory but it was mandatory’.”

Doherty: “Yeah, and actually…”

Cooper: “Explain the difference to me between mandatory and compulsory.”

Doherty: “Well actually, of the original findings that the Data Protection Commission offered us in August, she upheld the fact  that it isn’t compulsory but it is mandatory for certain social welfare services and that’s what I had said a number of years ago.”

Later – after Ms Doherty said 3.2million people are using the cards “on a very regular basis” and that they have a choice not to use them because “there’s a route for all of the services in a paper-based route”…

Liam Herrick: “I disagree that what we have now [the PSC] doesn’t have all of the attributes of a national identity system. And I’m very surprised with the minister again repeating again what she said in the Oireachtas  recently – that there’s always been alternative routes to getting these public services, other than the Public Services Card.

“That’s simply just not the case. The Passport Office required the Public Services Card until a couple of months ago where they changed their policy. The Road Safety Authority  required the Public Service Card until a year ago when the Road Safety Authority changed its policy of requiring it for the driver theory test.

Doherty: “But that’s not true, Liam.”

Herrick: “Well. It’s not just me that’s saying it.”

Doherty: “The Road Safety Authority did change their mind but they never had a policy and changed the policy. They changed their mind from introducing it in the first instance which is entirely different.”

Later – after Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers said Ms Doherty’s department has “shown total contempt” for the office of the DPC and asked Ms Doherty why her department won’t publish the legal advice that it received in light of the DPC’s report…

Doherty: “We spent two years engaging with the public, or the Data Protection Commission, so to say that we didn’t engage is not true. Two full years we spent engaging with the commission. Since the report was issued to   us in August, on the 15th of August, we have written to the  commission probably four, maybe five, times, looking to engage further and those engagement requests have been refused.

“And so I’m not sure what else you would have me do, to try and get clarification and seek…”

Cooper: “Sorry, didn’t you have the report for long before last August?”

Doherty:No, I’m sorry, we didn’t. We got the report  on the 15th of August. It’s actually, it’s quite difficult to have a conversation with people when they don’t even know the facts. But the simple fact of the matter is that we have a different view and our understanding of the legislation differs from the view of the Data Protection Commissioner.

Two people have different  views of a piece of legislation, we’re quite happy to defend our view in the Circuit Court.

“It certainly won’t be millions and millions and millions of euro…It certainly won’t be millions of euro.”


Herrick:This is a question about law. It’s not about having opinions about a piece of legislation. The Data Protection Commission is the statutory  body which is mandated by law, by primary statute to adjudicate on questions of data protection. And it’s made a binding finding.

“And the Government hasn’t liked that finding. And now starts to refer to is as if it’s some type of discretionary opinion. This is of enormous significance because…”

Yates:Bríd. You’re a common sense woman. Can I put it to you? What’s on this, your PPS number, your date of birth and a photograph of ya? Like where is this Big Brother fear? If it accesses a more efficient way of getting public services and as we become more computerised and more software [inaudible] … surely it’s a kind of common sense provision?”

Smith: “Well you’re making the argument that the minister makes quite frequently in the Dáil when this issue is raised…”


Smith: “I think the Government want to send out a message to big data, globally, that this state is a safe pair of hands for the big operators like Google and Amazon and all the rest of it to do their data business in. They don’t want heavy regulation on data, they want light-touch regulation…”


Herrick: “I think the Public Services Card is fundamentally flawed and it’s not just the reports we’ve had up to now. There’s ongoing investigations  into the biometric nature of the card. Bizarrely, the Government is saying the card isn’t a biometric card…”

Cooper: “Sorry, explain, what does that mean?”

Herrick: “It means that it’s processing  biological information – in this case, a high-resolution photograph which can be processed and, using facial recognition technology, match against a database…”

Yates: “Ah here.” [puts head in right hand].

Cooper: “You love that type of stuff, don’t you?” [to Yates].

Yates:Give us a break, Liam. The fact of the matter is if I produce my driver’s licence, it has my photograph on it. My passport, like don’t make it sound like Big Brother, oh my god, my privacy has been breached because of a photograph.”

Herrick:I’m actually telling you what’s, the scientific description that was on the Government’s tender document that went out in the first place. And the company that makes the cards was originally called Biometric Card Services. And now the Government is denying it’s a biometric system. There’s another investigation…”

Yates: “It’s a photograph. Let’s call it what it is.”


Doherty:It is a simple photograph. It’s exactly the same photograph  that’s on your driving licence, it’s on your passport, it’s no different…”

Herrick: “It’s part of a database that’s shared across all Government departments.”


Herrick: “In the lead up to the election, whoever that’s going to be, we’ll be calling on all political parties to make a commitment not to dig ourselves into this any deeper and to step back.

“If we’re concerned about identity systems. Let’s start by reviewing what we already have. The passport and the driver’s licence work perfectly effectively in proving people’s identity. This is a project that’s just got out of control.

Doherty:Oh. My. God.”

Herrick: “And it’s a real shame that the Government is compounding, you know, mistakes, misrepresentations on top of each other at this stage and compounding it with legal fees on top of the money that’s been wasted.”

Watch back in full here

Previously: House of Card

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

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


Lawyer and Information Rights Programme Manager for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Elizabeth Farries

This evening.

Lawyer and Information Rights Programme Manager for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Elizabeth Farries tweeted in response to Ms Doherty’s comments on The Tonight Show last night.

Ms Farries tweeted:

“The Irish Council for Civil Liberties joined The Tonight Show yesterday to discuss the Public Services Card.

The minister [Regina Doherty] also appeared and said it’s “difficult to have a conversation with people when they don’t even know the facts.” Respectfully, we know the facts.

The minister said “Of course they have a choice” about the PSC.

Fact: Our right “to access an ever-increasing range of public services has, in effect, been made conditional upon production of a PSC” (DPC, at p21) What kind of “choice” is that?

Many have reported their lack of choice regarding the PSC.

Remember: The person denied a pension.

The teacher denied benefits after breaking her ankle.

The firefighter denied a passport.

The minister said the card involves a simple photograph.

Fact. It’s not simple. The photo is processed using facial recognition technology software for comparison against a database. See the department’s own report.

Not worried about facial recognition technology? You should be. It’s inaccurate, insecure, and destroys our privacy. This is why other governments are banning it.

The minister said this is simply a case that “two people have different views”.

Fact. This is untrue. The minister is not arguing with a political view.

The Data Protection Commissioner is the independent regulator, with the authority to make binding decisions on Government.

The problems with the Public Services Card don’t disappear simply because they are misrepresented.

The PSC is a facial recognition project that significantly violates our data protection and privacy rights.

Join us in fighting this illegal scheme today!”

Via Elizabeth Farries

Minister for Social protection Regina Dopherty and her media advisor Alex Connolly

This morning.

Via Independent.ie:

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty was able to land a pay deal for her spin doctor that breaches the Government’s own cap on salaries for special advisers.

Ms Doherty’s media adviser Alex Connolly was appointed last October on a salary of €107,109 – which is €6,000 more than the salary restriction that is in place for Cabinet ministers’ special advisers…

…Mr Connolly earns over €20,000 more than the average salary of press and media advisers for other ministers – which stands at around €86,000….


Mr Connolly has been replaced at Fáilte Ireland by Suzanne Coogan, who advised Denis Naughten when he was communications minister…

Good times.

Minister won pay deal for spin doctor €6,000 above salary cap Hugh O’Connell, Independent.ie)

Pics: Rollingnews, Alex Connolly

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


From top: Public Service Card; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty TD

This morning.

Via Irish Examiner:

In refusing the request, the department cited five reasons, each of which has been disputed by [lawyer] Mr [TJ] McIntyre:

The report is exempt from Freedom of Information;

releasing it would have a significant adverse effect on the department’s management of operational matters;

the report’s findings are exempted under legal professional privilege;

releasing it would “impair” compliance with the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005;

and doing so would have a serious adverse effect on the ability of the Government to manage the financial interests of the State.

The Irish Examiner asked the department why it appeared to be contradicting Ms Doherty in refusing to release the report. The department “has outlined its reasoning for the decision”, said a spokesperson, adding the decision is open to appeal.

In her findings in the contentious report, Ms Dixon mandated that the department of Social Protection must delete 3.2m historical records held on cardholders, and stated that the processing of data using the PSC for state services other than welfare is unlawful.

Department: Not in public interest to release PSC report (Irish Examiner)