Thursday 19 September 2019

Government 'told porkies' on public services card - Martin

Micheál Martin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Micheál Martin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

The Government has been accused of "telling porkies" about the Public Services Card (PSC) by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Speaking in Wexford yesterday, Mr Martin claimed the Government "hid the truth" from the public when it received the draft findings of the Data Protection Commissioner's (DPC) report on the card last year.

Last month, the DPC announced in its final report it had found that it was illegal for any Government department, except the Department of Social Protection, to insist that members of the public must obtain a PSC to access a public service.

The Government has publicly disagreed with the report on the basis of "strong legal advice" and signalled it will legally challenge enforcement action by the DPC - setting up a likely battle between the State and one of its agencies in the courts.

The department was made aware of the DPC's draft findings - which were not substantially different from its final report - last summer. Describing the PSC as a "national identity card", Mr Martin said: "I think it is unacceptable the degree to which the Government hid the truth from people for about a year on the difficulties that they were having on that."

Mr Martin said the idea the card was needed for passport and driving licence applications was "simply wrong". He added: "From a fundamental point of view, it was not on that the Government would tell porkies about that."

Mr Martin said the full DPC report should be published "so that we can see fully what the director feels about how the law has been implemented and how the citizen has been browbeaten into a certain course of action to get basic services that citizens could always get in the past".

Irish Independent

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