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Objection to proposed use of public services card in new online voter portal - Cllr Sarah Holland

14 January, 2019 - by Sarah Holland

Cllr Sarah Holland presented a motion in today's sitting of South Dublin County Council objecting to the proposed use of the controversial Public Services card to verify identity in the new online voter portal being mooted by the 4 Dublin local authorities.

The motion passed with strong cross-party support.

The portal, the details of which are currently out for public consultation, would require a sign-up to the MyGovID website, which in order to be verified, would require users to make an appointment to acquire a Public Services Card in order to access the service.

The Public Services Card has been subject to scrutiny since it's inception. There was controversy when it transpired that even though the card was described as "optional", failure to sign up to it was resulting in delays and stoppages of welfare payments such as pensions and jobseekers allowance.

Freedom of Information requests have so far failed to ascertain the legal basis for the card, and most recently, the Government have refused to release details of an interim inquiry by the Data Protection Commission into the card.

Cllr Holland said

"I have grave reservations about the Government's continued promotion of the Public Services Card.  

"The Road Safety Authority have ceased asking for it to be a requirement when applying for a theory test following advice from the Attorney General to the Minister for Transport. 

"When there is such a lack of transparency about what amounts to a national ID card, I don't think it should be used to restrict access to what could be an excellent democratic tool.

"Passports and drivers licenses have always been sufficient to verify identification, so we as a council should stick to that, until we have greater clarity around the issues."

"We should not be making this card a requirement for accessing public services until all of the issues have been resolved."


Editor's note:

Please find motion attached to the top of this article.

Text of the motion:

That this council objects to the use of the Public Services Card to verify the identity of those who sign up to the proposed new online voter portal, which is currently out for public consultation.  The legal basis for use of the PSC has not been ascertained, the PSC has been used to target welfare recipients, i.e. stopping and delaying payments if people did not sign up to it, there is no clarity over what data will be used for and by whom.  Until these issues are resolved, traditional methods of identification can and should be used, i.e. drivers license or passport.

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