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Dublin: -1°C Thursday 15 April 2021

TDs and senators face Leinster House lockout unless they get Public Services Card

PSC scanners have been fitted to doors of Dáil and Seanad chamber, the Dáil bar and canteen.

TDs HAVE BEEN expressing outrage this morning at the news that they will now need to show a Public Services Card (PSC) to gain entry to Leinster House.

Politicians will be required to scan the card in order to access all areas and facilities in the Kildare Street complex. These include the Dáil and Seanad chambers and the Dáil bar and canteen.

Engineers have been taking advantage of a deserted Leinster House over this Easter weekend to fit the scanners to entrances from Merrion Row and Kildare Street as well as internally at the doors of the bar, restaurant, parliamentary spaces and offices of individual politicians.

An on-call spokesperson from the Department of Dáil Protection (DDP) told TheJournal.ie: “The public has been repeatedly reassured that the Public Services Card (PSC) is for the collective good. Elected representatives will be leading by example by using it to improve security and accountability in the hallowed environs of parliament.

“We would also like to stress to TDs and senators that while the card is mandatory, it is not compulsory.”


Collective panic swept through a number of TDs when one member spotted the announcement in their Dáil email inbox early this Easter Sunday morning.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to TheJournal.ie, the TD said: “I was only going in to check if the Leinster House Lotto bumper Good Friday jackpot had been won when I clocked the mail from the DDP. I was straight into our group Whatsapp to check if any of the rest of the lads had seen it.

“It’s a bloody disgrace and typically sneaky of the DDP to drop this on us when we are taking our only fortnight break this month. We won’t stand for this. There are democratic processes and I’ll be fully investigating our options when we’re back in Leinster House on the 17th. If I can get in.”

The TD concluded:

It’s PSC gone mad.

TheJournal.ie has gained exclusive access to screenshots from the moment the PSC penny dropped in the TDs’ private Whatsapp group this morning:



The Department of Dáil Protection has told TheJournal.ie that an application form for the PSC has been left in the postal pigeonholes of each TD and senator.

When asked how the representatives will be able to access their pigeonholes in Leinster House after the weekend, the DDP spokesperson said: “We’ll have to get back to you on that.”

Seeking to quell the rising unrest among TDs about the new access rules, the spokesperson added: “Acquiring a PSC is optional but it will be necessary for them to access essential services.”

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It is believed the new entry requirements will also apply to members of Seanad Éireann but as of this morning, no senator had checked their work email.

PSC photos on election posters

TheJournal.ie has also learned that there are proposals to extend the application of the PSC beyond the day-to-day business of Leinster House:

  • TDs and senators’ voting buttons will be disabled until engineers can refit them with a PSC scanning mechanism. Those unable to scan a PSC after this refit will be unable to participate in votes.
  • Should a general election be called, candidates will only be permitted to use the photograph on their PSC card on election posters. Neither the use of studio photographs nor of Photoshopped backgrounds, eg, scenes of natural beauty, bustling urban streetscapes etc, will be strictly prohibited.
  • Social media accounts of elected officials, particularly those including the words ‘TD’, ‘Senator’, ‘campaign’, or ‘forPrez’ in the handle, will be subject to a 2-step verification process. One of these steps will include the input of a PSC number.

The Department refuted accusations of trying to introduce the ‘access-all-areas’ card system “by stealth” while TDs and senators were on holidays.

The spokesperson said:

“It makes sense to introduce infrastructural changes when the Houses are empty. Elected representatives are very busy in their own constituencies this weekend, officiating at Easter egg hunts and the like, so it’s purely a practical consideration.”

He added:

We would further like to underline that while access using the PSC is not yet required by legislation, it is highly recommended.

[Update: The DDP has told TheJournal.ie that as there is a two-week backlog in the face-to-face interviews necessary to process PSC applications at welfare offices, TDs and senators will be allowed temporary access to Leinster House if they can remember and repeat their home Eircode - without error - within five seconds.]

About the author:

Seosaimhin Williams-Fitzpatrick

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