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Taoiseach: 'Anyone that reads the law will understand why we disagree with the Data Commissioner's report'

The Taoiseach confirmed that the government has yet to file any court documents appealing findings by the Data Protection Commissioner.

Varadkar says the PSC project has been a success.
Varadkar says the PSC project has been a success.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

LEO VARADKAR has defended the Public Services Card (PSC) stating that it has been “very successful”.

The Taoiseach confirmed that the government has yet to file any court documents appealing findings in a report on the card compiled by the Data Protection Commissioner.

In a landmark investigation, the commissioner found that there was no lawful basis for anyone to be required to get a PSC for anything other than social welfare payments and benefits. 

However, the government states that it disagrees with the report. 

In recent years, the card has become nothing but a headache for government. Criticism grew over the use of the card for more services than originally intended, sparking concerns it was quickly becoming a de-facto national ID card backed by a database of citizens’ biometric data, accessible by dozens of agencies.

Speaking about the report’s findings, Varadkar said:

“We disagree with it. I think anyone who actually reads the law for themselves will understand why we disagree with her interpretation of it. We believe the law brought in by Fianna Fáil back in 1998 and then 2005 is robust, and adequate for it. And that’s why we’ll be able to appeal the findings.

“And you know, we are a democracy. And in a democracy, anyone has the right to appeal findings they don’t agree with. And that’s all we will do.”

He said before the government can file any legal documents an enforcement notice must be issued by the commissioner.

“We actually have to have an enforcement notice, an enforcement order from the Data Protection Commissioner and to the best of my knowledge, we don’t have that. Yes, there was a press release, an unpublished report, there is yet to be in any enforcement or document of legal standing from the DPC,” he said.

Defending the rollout of the card, Varadkar said he believes the PSC “is a good thing” and allows people to access public services more easily..

“It has cut out loads of duplication, you know, the travel pass, pension books, social welfare cards, all those different cards and books and stuff  we had before and it also helps control the fraud. So as a project it has been very successful, it continues. Nobody’s questioning that, by the way.”

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty told TheJournal.ie this week that she plans to publish the commissioner’s report, as well as the government’s response to the findings, in the next week or so.  


Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

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