Fine Gael ‘sneaking in’ compulsory ID card


Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has described Fine Gael’s attempts to introduce a mandatory ID Card for the 26 Counties “by the back door” as a textbook example of a government that does not believe it is accountable to the people.

The controversy arose after a woman in her 70s was refused her state pension for 18 months because she chose not to register for a public services card. As a result, she is owed some 13,000 euro.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, described how she was “bullied” in several letters from the Department of Social Protection telling her to register.

She had told officials that she would get the card if they could show her it was mandatory but nothing had been produced to show her that this was the case.

About 2.75 million have been issued to date, while Ministers have made contradictory statement over whether the card compulsory or not.

The Minister for Social Protection has said the new public services card is “mandatory” if you want to use government services.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, the minister said it was a requirement that people validate their identity in order to receive a service from the State.

Minister Regina Doherty has explained why her department requires people to have the card, which carries a memory chip and can be scanned without contact. Millions have already been issued.

“We believe it’s not too much to ask people to authenticate who you are so we can give you a fast and efficient public service to make sure you can get what you’re entitled to,” she said.

The Workers’ Party said the action of the department was “reprehensible” and was “proof that the card is the genesis of a compulsory national identity card”.

“This has grave implications for civil liberties and raises serious data protection issues as the card holder has no access whatsoever to the information stored on the electronic chip embedded in the card,” said councillor Ted Tynan said.

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald TD said that the pensioner in question had “done us all a great service” by shining a spotlight on the government’s ID card plan.

“There are a number of government agencies now refusing to provide important personal documentation and services such as passports and driver theory tests unless applicants have a Public Services Card.

“Where is the necessary public scrutiny and debate regarding the very significant privacy and data protection rights concerns associated with the introduction of a mandatory National ID Card?”

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