Sinn Fein criticise appointment of private firm to seek PPS numbers from Irish Water customers

‘Clear that the government has not learned from mistakes of the past’

Sligo News File Online.

Sinn Fein has hit out at government plans to hire a private firm to take PPS numbers and banking details from Irish Water customers unable to use the internet to apply for the €100 water conservation grant.

The Department of Social Protection has stated that the personal information of an expected 300,000 customers will be taken over the phone by employees of the private call centre. This will follow letters issued to customers by the department on a phased basis over 25 days from the middle of August.

A spokesperson for Sinn Fein said the party “does not agree in the handing over of such sensitive personal information to a commercial body, even a semi-state one and needs to know exactly who will be administering this information.”

He said:

“The current proposals of a separate registration process with the Department of Social Protection have now been put forth. No doubt this will add further cost to the already obscene amounts of money wasted on Irish Water and by drawing PPS numbers back into the debate, it is clear that this government has not learned from the mistakes of the past. We must have clear guidelines as to the demarcation between the Department and Irish Water when it comes to processing the grant. We do not agree in the handing over of such sensitive personal information to a commercial body, even a semi-state one and need to know exactly who will be administering this information.

“While there are always concerns as to the transfer of personal information, there is nothing to suggest at the present time that any part of the chain in the water grant process will not adhere to the full rigour of data protection. There is strong legislation in place, and as long as all obey that legislation in the setting up of the grant apparatus and we have that clear demarcation of who is competent with what tasks in delivering the grant, there should be little of a security concern. The main problem is that, once again, we are compounding the costs of Irish Water and further bloating this semi-state body that is, by now, incorrigibly toxic.”