Watchdog accused of procedures breach on Public Services Card

Department of Social Protection claims Dixon’s report has several ‘inconsistencies’

A report by Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon found that several aspects of how the public services card was used were unlawful. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Department of Social Protection has hit back against the Data Protection Commissioner's investigation into the Public Services Card, alleging it breached its right to fair procedures.

The report by the commissioner, Helen Dixon, found that several aspects of the card's use were unlawful, including the retention of documents with personal data on 3.2 million citizens, which it said must be destroyed.

In a letter hand-delivered to Ms Dixon last week, the department suggests her office may not have “a clear understanding of the import of its own findings” on a key issue, and argues that the report has several “internal inconsistencies”.

The confidential letter, which has been seen by The Irish Times, is expected to be published this afternoon alongside the commissioner’s full report, which was sent to the department last month.


The department argues that some draft findings were removed and another added without it having a chance to comment.

This, it says, amounts to “a breach of fair procedures”.

One of several alleged inconsistencies relates to the circumstances in which data gathered for the project should be deleted.

The Government has said that the processing of personal data has a strong legal basis, that the retention of data is lawful.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times