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battle of wills

'They knew I wasn't going to go away' - State in second climbdown as adopted man finally receives PSC eight months later

The man has long maintained that, in being denied a PSC because he refused to get an adoption certificate, he was in effect being discriminated against.

psc The Public Services Card

A MAN, WHO had previously been denied a Public Services Card (PSC) due to his refusal to acquire an adoption cert, has finally been given his card after an eight-month struggle.

The 48-year-old man had first attended, of his own volition, for a PSC appointment last July, with his short-form birth certificate as proof of identification.

When it became clear that his details weren’t present on the list of births held by the General Register Office (GRO), the man told the officials present that he is adopted.

He subsequently refused to get an adoption certificate, something the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) had declared to be a prerequisite for all PSC applications, leading to an impasse.

His short-form birth cert had previously proved to be no impediment to the man obtaining a passport and driving licence.

Over the course of the last eight months, the man engaged in over 50 correspondences with DEASP, seen by, including addressing multiple letters to Minister Regina Doherty, arguing for his right to be given a card, and suggesting that in denying him a PSC he was in effect being discriminated against because he was adopted.

Legal basis

The legal basis for the requirement for an adoption cert in the process has never been outlined, a persistent criticism of all aspects of the PSC’s current expansion to multiple state services (such as driver theory test and first-time passport applications) first confirmed in May 2017.

CIS cianan cianan


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The man in question, meanwhile, is one of seven adopted citizens who have spoken to regarding their similar experiences when applying for the card.

Then, in mid-February, the man received a letter from the Client Identity Services section of DEASP, informing him that should he present with his short-form birth certificate to his nearest INTREO office, that should now prove sufficient to finalise his application.

Having attended another appointment at end February, and having shown that latest letter from DEASP (pictured above), he subsequently received a phone call from the office informing him that the department’s policy section had ruled his application could once more not be processed.

“I told the girl ‘this is an issue bigger than you or I’,” the man tells “I had assumed the letter would be enough to get me over the line. So I told her to contact the official who sent me that letter.”

“I called back a week later, and the same girl followed up with me and said that my card would now be issued. Two days later it arrived in the post. It was a lot of struggle for a little card.”

The story of DEASP’s concession to this man comes hot on the heels of news earlier this week that the PSC will now not be a mandatory requirement for citizens hoping to apply for a driving licence – part of the card’s expansion that had been in development for 12 months.


It also follows a number of concessions by the Department of Justice (DoJ) regarding its Data Protection Bill, currently navigating the Seanad, including a reversal on a plan to  immunise Ireland from hefty EU fines applicable via the union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on 25 May.

Both the driving licence climbdown and the softening of the DoJ’s stance have come in the aftermath of a scandal involving the UK data intelligence firm Cambridge Analytica, which stands accused of harvesting 50 million US Facebook profiles with the goal of influencing voting in the 2016 US presidential election.

90322876_90322876 Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty Sam Boal / Sam Boal / / queried DEASP as to why the man was allowed to obtain a PSC, given the department’s own guidelines, and asked whether or not it can now be taken as read that adopted people are under no obligation to present an adoption cert when registering for the card.

“Where difficulties arise the department will work with the person applying for the
card and the circumstances of the individual case are considered with a view to ensuring that there is a satisfactory outcome for the customer,” a spokesperson said in response.

The department continually monitors the progress and delivery of all its schemes and, where considered appropriate, they are refined to provide a better service.

In its response, the department also acknowledges (for the first time, so far as is aware) the precarious nature of dealing with adopted people in such circumstances, saying “it should be recognised that adopted people, who are unaware of their adoption status, may inadvertently find this out, in instances where they are required to provide their birth details”.

“I think they knew I wasn’t going to go away,” the man says meanwhile. His original objection had been due to the perceived discriminatory nature of the process, and what that might mean for someone who applied for the card without realising their adopted status.

Either that or they thought I had a point and thought it was easier to shut me up. The fact I got it in the end… it’s a big effort for a little card. It’s a victory, maybe a small victory but how and ever.

“I’ve travelled the world and been to seriously restrictive countries and they never asked me for an adoption cert.”

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