News & Media

Howlin accuses FG of wasting public money in Data Commissioner feud

9 January 2020

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Brendan Howlin TD, Leader of the Labour Party, has accused the Government of throwing good money away in its dispute with the Data Protection Commission.

Deputy Howlin said:

“I had hoped that we had got over the bad old days of arms of government spending money in legal disputes with other government agencies, but no.

“Previously, the Department of Public Expenditure had discouraged this, to prevent waste of money. But this Fine Gael Government itself has decided to take on the enforcement notice issued by the Data Protection Commissioner in respect of the public services card.

“Fine Gael is wasting public money by taking on the regulator that is tasked with regulating the one of the most important sectors of our economy, with a Europe-wide dimension. European partners are relying on Ireland’s Data Protection Commission to regulate major Internet companies, and our own government is undermining its credibility by taking this action.

“The grounds for the appeal are not known as the Government hasn’t indicated its advice from the Attorney General. However, respect for due process here is important. While the Government may succeed in the Courts, it should at least abide by the enforcement order in the meantime. It is nothing short of arrogance for the Government to insist that every company in the country obeys the rulings of the DPC on issues like GDPR, while reaching into the people’s pockets to spend public money to avoid the same obligations itself.

“Wasting public money has become the defining characteristic of this government.”