Thursday 17 January 2019

Irish Water 'not being transparent enough over PPS numbers'

Richard Bruton welcomed the announcement of 90 new jobs in Dublin
Richard Bruton welcomed the announcement of 90 new jobs in Dublin

THE Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has asked Irish Water to be more "transparent" in relation to the handling of personal information.

There has been widespread concern raised about the requirement on 2.2m customers to provide data such as PPS numbers to the semi-State company.

In response to queries by Independent TD Roisin Shortall, Deputy Data Protection Commissioner John O'Dwyer said he agreed that the company needs to provide greater clarity on its handling of PPS numbers.

"We are satisfied from this office's interactions with Irish Water that it is intended to use the PPSN for the sole purpose of confirming the qualification for a free water allowance of occupants of the household (including children) and in line with conditions set down for its use by the Department of Social Protection," he said.

"However, we are in agreement that the Data Protection Notice published does not currently give sufficient clarity and detail in this regard and we are corresponding with Irish Water and providing our views on this," he added.


The concern raised by the DPC came as Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton described the introduction of water charges as "the right choice" and warned that the water system in Dublin is on a "knife edge".

The government faced calls for a second day to abolish or suspend the introduction of water charges following claims that many supplies across the country are unsafe.

But speaking during 'Leader's Questions', Mr Bruton rejected criticism from the Opposition and said the Government has no plans to scrap the charges.

The Fine Gael Minister was responding to claims by Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald who said water supplies in places like Roscommon are unsafe.

Ms McDonald said that the government's claim that it is introducing a "neutral Budget" are disingenuous because of the roll-out of water charges in January.

"Is it neutral to land an additional bill on the doormat? How is it neutral to ask families who are just keeping their head above neutral to pay just another bill," she said.


Mr Bruton said that while he accepts the public's anger in relation to being saddled with another bill, water charges must be introduced.

"Of course we recognise that people don't like paying for a charge that they didn't have to pay for before.

"This is absolutely a correct way to manage a very expensive resource in which there have been years of under-investment.

"That's the choice we made, and I think it's one that we can absolutely stand over," he added.

Independent deputy Tommy Broughan called on the government to suspend the water charges until after the general election.

The Dublin TD said the election should be used as a "referendum" on whether the public supports the imposition of the charges.

"It's the straw that's breaking the camel's back," he told the Dail.


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