News & Media

Gov must publish report on Public Services Card

3 September 2019

Statement by Senator Kevin Humphreys
Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to publish the report from the Data Protection Commissioner on the public services card, as legislators need to know the grounds for the appeal and the reasoning behind the DPC decision.

Sen. Humphreys, a former Minister of State in the Department of Social Protection said:

“It is absurd that the Government will decide to challenge in court the findings and decision of the Data Protection Commissioner while refusing to publish the report which it is challenging.

“This is not a sensitive commercial transaction or any other type of issue to which confidentiality would attach. This is an important issue of public law and administration.

“When I was a Minister in the Department there was a clear rationale and legal basis for the use and rollout of the card for access to social protection payments and services. Since then the Fine Gael government has rolled it out to further services outside of the original Department.

“Neither the Oireachtas nor the general public have any basis for supporting the Government’s position unless and until they tell us what the DPC has said and why they disagree with it.

“As the Government is due to challenge the findings, the report and its full details will all come out in open court, so what are they trying to hide from us?

“If they are not going to publish the report, the Government should also tell us whether they intend to apply to the Circuit Court under section 28 of the 1988 Data Protection Act to have their application heard in camera?

“If further legislation is required to put the public services card on a sound legal footing we can only know that if the full report is published unredacted. I am calling on the Government to now publish it so legislators can make an informed decision."