Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (96)

Seán Crowe


96. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has received a briefing regarding findings of the Data Protection Commission relating to the use of the public services card in view of the fact that the Commission found there was no legal basis for Departments, except for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, to insist persons must obtain a card to access a public service; if a review has been conducted into the use of the card by his Department; if data has been deleted by his Department collected from persons using the card; and if the Passport Office is not requesting applicants to use the card to apply for passports. [37281/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Since March 29 2016, the Passport Service has required all first time passport applicants, aged 18 and above, who are resident in Ireland to submit a copy of their Public Services Card (PSC) with their passport application. This also applies to adult applicants whose most recent passport has expired more than five years previously and to adult applicants whose passport was issued before 1 January 2006 and has been reported as lost, stolen or damaged.  

Upholding the integrity of the Irish Passport is a key commitment of the Passport Service and the Passport Service believes that the presentation of the PSC is an important means of identity verification for applicants, particularly adult applicants making first time applications.

The Passport Service is aware of the Data Protection Commission’s concerns on matters pertaining to the PSC. I have directed the Passport Service to undertake a review of documents required for first time adult passport applicants with specific reference to the requirement to submit a copy of their PSC as part of their application.

The Passport Service will continue to accept a copy of an applicant’s PSC as valid identification for first time adult applications and other applicable categories of application. Where the applicant does not present their PSC, an application can proceed if an applicant either presents original Government-issued photographic identification, such as a driver’s licence or a passport from another country, or attends for interview in person at the Passport Offices in Cork or Dublin.

Having regard to Article 6(1)(e) of General Data Protection Regulation and Section 8 of the Passports Act 2008, as amended, the Passport Service receives and processes personal data for the purpose of verifying the identity of the passport applicant, establishing the applicant's citizenship and issuing passports.  The data collected for this purpose is held by the Passport Service only as long as there is a business need to do so in line with the purpose(s) for which it was collected. In the case of passport issuance, this data is held for the validity period of the passport plus an additional five years. After this time, data is marked for destruction and is destroyed in line with internal guidelines and guidelines for destruction received from the National Archives Office.