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Sunday 22 September 2019

Passport Office gives conflicting advice on public services card


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Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

The Passport Service is giving first-time applicants conflicting advice about whether they need a public services card (PSC) to get a passport, in the wake of a damning report from the Data Protection Commissioner.

Officially, the Passport Service says it is reviewing its documentary requirements for first-time applicants after the DPC found it was illegal for any Government department, except for the Department of Social Protection (DSP), to insist members of the public must obtain a PSC to access a public service.

But in response to individual customer queries, officials are saying either that the card is no longer required or telling members of the public to submit whatever documentation they are comfortable with.

The conflicting advice emerged following queries from Sinn Féin TD John Brady and the Irish Independent. The Department of Foreign Affairs said its officers were being advised to respond to queries about the PSC with the "reviewing documentation" line, but admitted: "There is the possibility that officers could provide incorrect advice. This would be a customer service/training issue and does not constitute passport service policy."

Mr Brady said the fact there hds been no public announcement "shows that this is going to be the Government response - to quietly make changes without any formal response".

The DSP has yet to publish or respond to the DPC report, despite being told to do so within seven days.

It said yesterday it would publish it "together with its own response, once a full consideration of the report is complete" in "another week or so".

The DPC said it "regrets" the report had still not been published.

Irish Independent

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