‘No great mystery’ to decision to drop PSC requirement for passports – Tánaiste
Government defence of public services card operation ‘rock solid’, Coveney insists
Tánaiste Simon Coveney also insisted that the position on the operation by Government of the card was ‘rock solid’. He said it would be strongly defended if legally tested.
The Government’s defence of its operation of the Public Service Card (PSC) is “rock solid”, according to the Tánaiste.
Simon Coveney said there was “no great mystery” to the decision by the Department of Foreign Affairs to remove the obligation to have the card in order to apply for a passport, a requirement dropped earlier this week.
The Government wanted to clear up any confusion and ensure that people without a PSC knew they would not be precluded from getting a passport, he said.
The card has been at the centre of a major controversy after the report issued by Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon declared it illegal to force the public to have a card for services other than those supplied by the Department of Social Protection.
The Government has rejected the findings and will challenge enforcement proceedings expected to be taken by the Data Protection Office.
Sinn Féin social protection spokesman John Brady, who raised the issue in the Dáil, noted the “very quiet way the public services card was removed as a requirement for a passport application”.
He told the Tánaiste that “clearly you don’t have faith in the legality of the requirement for the PSC, hence its removal”.
He also called for clarity about the National Childcare Scheme which comes into effect in the autumn.
On Wednesday, the Taoiseach announced that parents without a card would not have to acquire one to apply online for the new childcare subsidy scheme.
Mr Brady said however that the department’s website stated that the paper format for applications would not be ready until January, months after the scheme comes into effect.
The Tánaiste insisted that there was “no great mystery” to the changes. He said the whole point of the card was to make it easier for citizens to access public services including first time passport applicants.
They were introducing the facility to allow those who do not have a PSC to get a passport. This was to clarify any confusion in the public mind over the summer and to ensure people knew “we’re not going to preclude people from getting a passport if they don’t have a PSC”.
Mr Coveney also insisted that the position on the operation by Government of the card was “rock solid”. He said it would be strongly defended if legally tested.