Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, said today that concerns expressed by the Data Protection Commission about social welfare checks at ports and airports will require a full and detailed response from the Taoiseach.

Deputy Shortall said:

“In the Dáil this week, I challenged the Taoiseach to state the specific legal basis under which these airport inspections were being carried out. The fact that the State’s own data protection watchdog has serious doubts about about whether social welfare inspectors were acting lawfully by questioning people about the Pandemic Employment Payments shows that this debacle is far from over.

“It now appears that the social welfare checks at airports were dubious at best and unlawful at worst. The Government needs to clearly outline on what basis social welfare inspectors questioned passengers and what reasonable grounds were identified for the checks, which are required by law.

“In the absence of any knowledge about people, their names or reason for travelling, it is difficult to see any reasonable grounds for social welfare checks at the airport.

“This controversy casts yet another shadow of doubt over the legal underpinning for these checks being carried out.”

July 30, 2020

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