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Data chiefs launch twin investigations into Greyhound bins transfer

The Data Protection Commissioner wants to see whether Greyhound’s collection of Dublin City Council’s debts is legal.

Many Dubliners have gone without waste collection since Greyhound became the city council's waste collection company.
Many Dubliners have gone without waste collection since Greyhound became the city council's waste collection company.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE DATA PROTECTION COMMISSIONER has launched a two-part investigation into the transfer of bin services from Dublin City Council to a private waste disposal firm earlier this month.

Greyhound took over the bin collection services in the city at the start of the month – in a move which has been plagued by problems, including complaints that customers were not informed of the changeover, which requires them to pay for bin collections in advance.

The transfer has raised further controversy over the disclosure that the City Council had given details of its 140,000 waste customers to Greyhound, which is collecting arrears payments on the city council’s behalf.

This evening the DPC confirmed to TheJournal.ie that it had received 20 complaints and queries from the public over the handover, prompting it to contact the City Council for further information.

The office said some of its questions were outstanding, and that it had therefore decided to launch an investigation under the Data Protection Acts.

The investigation, broken into two parts, will seek to ensure that Greyhound’s collection of outstanding debts takes place within the law, and that a suitable contract is in place between the two parties.

“This office will be seeking to ensure that Dublin City Council has ensured that there are appropriate procedures in place in Greyhound, to ensure that Greyhound can only use this information for the purposes of debt collection and not in the context of waste collection activities,” the DPC said in a statement.

The probe will also examine if the sale of the waste collection contract complied with the Data Protection Acts, though the DPC expects the City Council to be able to confirm its compliance with the Acts given how such sales take place on a regular and ongoing basis.

TheJournal.ie understands that the council has been given seven days to respond to the DPC’s requests for further information.

‘Inundated’

A spokesperson for Greyhound told RTÉ News that it had not been notified about any DPC investigation, but that it was fully compliant with the laws and that payment cards issued to its new customers do not contain account information.

The fallout from the changeover has also prompted political fury: Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has called on the council to clarify what details it had provided, saying her constituency offices had been “inundated” with calls complaining about the switch.

Residents calling her “not only have not had their rubbish collected, they were not aware of Greyhound’s contractual conditions,” she said. “It appears the Council management may have provided information about debts owed to Greyhound Recycling and Recovery.”

Fianna Fáil’s members of the city council have urged the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee to investigate how Dublin City Council withdrew its own waste services.

“We believe that the decision by Dublin City Council to withdraw from the market prior to the introduction of legislation to regulate the market was premature,” its leader Mary Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to the committee.

She added that the party felt there was “no demonstrable benefit for the City and in the absence of real information on the agreement with Greyhound we fear it is a very bad deal for the city.”

Fianna Fáil claims that the city council’s own waste collection staff should have been given an opportunity to compete for the waste collection service, and that customers should be given a choice of alternative collection services in the absence of a service from the council.

Additional reporting by Susan Ryan

Read: City Manager: Yes, we made mistakes with the Dublin bins

More: Emergency meeting over Dublin city bins ‘disaster’

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Gavan Reilly

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