The new Public Service Card (PSC) regime has recently come to media attention and has been a hot topic of conversation recently. What happens if you wish to claim a benefit and you don’t have a Public Service Card? You simply don’t get it. An retired lady complained that she was unable to receive her pension because she did not have the Public Service Card. She was unwilling to register to get one due to a number of reasons.
This is far from being the only case as the executive director of the independent human rights watchdog confirmed on Twitter that the organisation is getting a large number of queries in relation to the card. Voices were raised for and against the Public Service Card which was introduced without any specific legislation. The Government stated that this is not a national identity card and it was designed to ensure that the public services are efficient. However, certain services are being denied for failure to provide a Public Service Card which is an attempt to make the Public Service Card compulsory to access those services.
Section 247 C (3) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 states that people should visit the Social Welfare office, show some documentation, and have their picture taken and give a copy of their signature. This is the Minister’s preferred method of proof of identity. It does not say that the purpose of doing so is to have their data entered in the national Public Services Card register, with all the subsequent data sharing and processing that requires.
This is a decision that we believe could be overturned by the courts by way of a Judicial Review. We expect a wave of cases in the courts in the coming weeks which will test the government’s position that the card is mandatory but not compulsory.
We at Anthony Joyce & Co. Solicitors have a barrister lined up to bring a judicial review to have somebody willing to test the law about this!
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