Greens unclear on commitment to abolish public services card

The Green Party has declined to confirm whether it is still committed to the abolition of the Public Services Card, something it had pledged to do prior to the general election.
Greens unclear on commitment to abolish public services card
Abolishing the public services card was not "considered a priority" in government talks, say the Green Party. File Picture of a Public Services Card.
File image of Paschal Donohoe after registering for a Public Services Card in 2016. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins
File image of Paschal Donohoe after registering for a Public Services Card in 2016. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

The Green Party has declined to confirm whether it is still committed to the abolition of the Public Services Card, something it had pledged to do prior to the general election.

The card had polarised Ireland’s political parties ahead of last February’s election, with three - Labour, Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael - declining to commit to its abolition.

The Greens’ own commitment was made via a manifesto of eight human rights requests put forward by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) on February 4, four days prior to the national vote.

The PSC project has been accused of discriminating against the less well-off in society as it stands as a requirement for accessing welfare services.

Despite the Greens’ commitment to its abolition, the PSC does not feature in the published programme for government.

The Irish Examiner further understands the card was never discussed during the extended government formation talks that led to the new coalition.

Contacted for comment Ossian Smyth, Green TD for Dun Laoghaire and the party’s new Minister of State for public procurement and eGovernment, said that “he would have to check” the party’s manifesto to see what the party’s agreed stance on the card is.

However, the PSC does not appear anywhere within the Greens’ 2020 general election manifesto.

Abolishing the public services card was not "considered a priority" in government talks, say the Green Party. File Picture of a Public Services Card.
Abolishing the public services card was not "considered a priority" in government talks, say the Green Party. File Picture of a Public Services Card.

“It hasn’t been dropped,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“It’s not a given that it will happen, and it’s not a given that it won’t happen”.

“The way the card has been applied in the last couple of years has in particular had an effect on older people,” he said, adding that the project “needs a rethink”.

The PSC project, which has cost in the region of €70 million to date and was conceived without any business case ever being carried out, first went live in 2011 and has since seen the issuance of more than 4 million units.

In 2017, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform began a project which would have seen the card’s use expanded to government services outside welfare, such as applying for a driving test or a passport.

Many of those mandatory requirements were rowed back upon following the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon’s ruling on the card last August.

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