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Wednesday 13 December 2017

ID card rollout put on hold by public sector action

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

THE rollout of the controversial public services identity card will be delayed until next year due to the industrial action by public sector workers.

The first batch of the cards was due to be issued to pensioners later this year.

At the Dail's Public Accounts committee, the Department of Social and Family Affairs secretary general Bernadette Lacey said the cards would now not be ready until early next year.

"It'll take about three years to roll it out across the country," she said.

The card will initially contain the holder's name, photograph, signature and public service number and will enable them to access welfare benefits and other state services.

Ms Lacey confirmed afterwards that staff were not co-operating with the €18m project as part of a ban on co-operation with all new initiatives.

The committee also heard that the campaign against public sector cuts was also delaying the transfer of 1,000 community welfare officers from the HSE to the Department of Social Protection.

This is despite the fact that the move was first proposed in 2003 to improve efficiency.

Fine Gael TD Jim O'Keeffe expressed concern that the transfer was taking so long.

"I see the will of Government being thwarted, and more importantly, the will of the Oireachtas, which passed this legislation. It really is 'Waiting for Godot'," he said.

The committee also heard that around €75m had been spent on developing an IT project to provide an electronic public service "one-stop shop".

But €27m of the total cost of the "Reach/Public Service Broker" system has been written off.

Fianna Fail TD Michael McGrath said he was not convinced that the taxpayer had got value for money.

"I believe those services could have been provided at much less cost to the taxpayer," he said.

Irish Independent

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