Public Services Card needed for licenses, passports
Irish citizens applying for a new passport or a driving license will also have to hold the State’s Public Services Card (PSC).
Although Irish Ministers insist that the cards are not compulsory, the new requirements mean that, for anyone who wishes to travel or drive, they effectively are.
Those applying for a passport will be required to produce the PSC from the autumn while it will be needed for driving license applications from next year.
Since 2011, the card has been issued to 2.3 million Irish citizens. It is underpinned by a biometric facial recognition database controlled by the Irish Department of Social Protection. Recently it has been given to people claiming social welfare benefits and, although a policy of non-obligation has been maintained, the Irish Government has been keen to encourage all citizens to sign up.
The new measures will go some way towards hitting its target of having three million people registered by the end of 2017.
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Paschal Donohoe, Irish Minister for Public Expenditure, explained that the reason for the change in procedure was to do with the safety of Ireland and its citizens.
“Given the increase in acts of terrorism over the last several years, every democratic country should be obliged to deploy the most robust means of authenticated travel across borders that it has available,” he told The Irish Times. “It is not, and will not be, compulsory to have a PSC.
“However, Government has an obligation to deploy the most robust means of online and physical identity verification possible to ensure that it is doing all it can to reduce fraud, personation and the risk of identity theft in the delivery or accessing of public services.”
Mr Donohoe said that the process behind the card has a legislative underpinning but others are unconvinced.
TJ McIntyre, chairman of civil liberties group Digital Rights Ireland and a law lecturer at UCD, described them as “very concerning”.
“It appears to be a policy of introducing a national ID card by stealth, in a way which appears to be illegal,” he said.