Cllr Sarah Holland presented a motion in a recent 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 four 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 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.” Cllr Holland concluded “We should not be making this card a requirement for accessing public services until all of the issues have been resolved.”