Justice sought more data protection funding and staff

State’s global image linked to its regulatory reputation, pre-budget submission claims

The Department of Justice warned that the global standing of Ireland and the Data Protection Commission (DPC) were now so interdependent that nothing except a significant increase in staff would help.

In a pre-budget submission, the department said there was a “significant interdependency” between the Data Protection Commission and Ireland’s “international reputation”.

In an appeal for funding, it said 70 extra staff should be provided at an estimated cost of €5.4 million along with another €2.2 million in funding including €1 million for legal fees.

It said the DPC was now “experiencing higher levels of litigation that ever before” with more than 40 live cases at any given time, some of which might run for three to four years.

‘Unstable, unreliable’

“The complexity inherent in the matters that come before the DPC – as well as the implications they pose for Ireland’s regulatory reputation – continues to escalate,” it said.

Also in the submission, the Department of Justice also said some its existing equipment was now “unstable, unreliable” and beyond the manufacturer’s recommended useful life.

It said it simply couldn’t be justified to decommission, transfer and recommission kit that had such little “useful life” left.

Other funding boosts that the department asked for were about €9.4 million to provide for extra garda pension payments.

“Approximately 300 additional gardaí are estimated to be eligible for pension and gratuity payments in 2022,” a detailed breakdown of the figures revealed.

Another €1.1 million was needed for corporate communications for gardaí to pay for public awareness campaigns, and media and social media monitoring.

A spokesman for the department said it had received a substantial allocation in Budget 2022. "The department welcomed additional funding of €145 million – representing an increase of over 5 per cent on the allocation for 2021 and bringing the total funding for the justice sector in 2022 to €3.153 billion."