Written answers

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Department of Social Protection

National Identity Card

Photo of Tom FlemingTom Fleming (Kerry South, Independent)
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56. To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will introduce a national identity card which can be managed by generating a unique national identity code for every citizen by using a computerised binary system numerical code, which would virtually eliminate errors or mismatches when it comes to identifying persons on different databases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27896/15]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The Department of Social Protection has developed, in conjunction with a number of other Government Departments, a rules based standard for establishing and authenticating an individual’s identity for the purposes of access to public services. This programme of work, which is known as Standard Authentication Framework Environment, or SAFE for short, also provided for the introduction of a Public Services Card (PSC) to enable individuals to gain access to public services more efficiently and with a minimum of duplication of effort, while at the same time preserving their privacy to the maximum extent possible.

The PSC is designed to replace other cards within the public sector such as the social services card and free travel pass of the Department, and to make it easy for providers of public services to verify the identity of customers. A PSC is currently issued following a registration process which involves the capture of an individual’s photograph and signature and the verification of identity data. The PSC facilitates and enhances the utilisation of the PPS Number which is the individual’s unique reference number for all dealings with Government Departments and public bodies. Section 262 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides the basis for the allocation, use and sharing of the PPS Number. Considerable progress has been made in the roll out of the PSC. Up to the end of June 2015, over 1.44 million cards were issued including over 458,000 Free Travel variants.

The question of the introduction or otherwise of a national identity card was not part of SAFE’s remit. The matter of establishing a national identity index and producing a national identity card is a wider issue. It would require due consideration by the appropriate agencies before any policy decisions could be formulated by Government and would require the development and implementation of legislation to support any such policy. Development of policy in this area would be led by the Minister for Justice and I am not aware of any current plans for her to do so.

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