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Order of Business

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

Senator Hayden raised the issue of rents and argued that an information campaign informing tenants of their rights should be instituted. I support her comments in that regard and hopefully the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government or a Minister of State at his Department will come to the House to discuss regulations which could be introduced to help tenants.
Senator Wilson agreed with Senator Paul Coghlan's comments on the national lottery. I am sure the questions he posed will be raised at the meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform next week and hopefully we will get answers to them from the new operators.
Senator Kelly raised the issue of the fire and ambulance services, which was also raised yesterday on the Order of Business by many Senators. As was pointed out, HIQA has reported on the matter and its report cannot be ignored. Patient safety is of paramount importance and must be addressed. I am sure that this matter can be concluded and dealt with through conciliation and hopefully, the right result will emerge as a result of that process.
Senators Healy Eames, Bradford and Conway spoke about a national dialogue on tax and expenditure. They also referred to the comments of a trade union leader about the self-employed and about employers stuffing their pockets with money, which were extraordinary. It would be right to say that many self-employed people are creating jobs and are helping to create a better economy. Many employers are putting people back to work and are putting money into their employees' pockets. That is what the trade union leader in question wants to see but his comments were very inflammatory. I also heard his comments regarding Syriza in Greece. He lauded that party's election but pointed out that the five demands of Syriza have already been delivered by this Government. His points in that regard should be taken on board.
Senator Colm Burke made reference to the leaked document from the HSE. I note his comments in that regard and am sure that it will not be the last we will hear of said document, which was leaked to all Members of this House.
Senator Mullen made reference to the additional data requested by the Department of Education and Skills and the need for reassurances from the Data Protection Commission in that regard. As the Senator pointed out, there has been much coverage of the recent introduction of the primary online database and criticism has centred on the use of the PPSN as a unique identifier for each student and on data retention. The creation of a database of primary school pupils is a long overdue development in the education sector which has been supported by both the INTO and the National Parents Council. Similar databases have existed for pre-primary, post-primary and higher education students for many years.
The Department of Education and Skills consulted the Data Protection Commissioner about the collection and retention of individual pupil information for the primary online database in December 2013. The commissioner has stated that the PPSN can be collected by schools for the purpose of the preparation of the primary online database. The Data Protection Commissioner was satisfied that the Department had a legitimate and proportionate purpose for requesting personal details on primary school pupils for the new national database. The retention policy has been agreed with the Data Protection Commissioner.
The primary purpose of the primary online database will be to monitor the educational progress of primary students through the primary school system and onwards to post-primary level and to help them to develop their full education potential. Once up and running, the database will also be used as a basis for the allocation of teachers and capitation grants. Aggregated data will also be used for the production and publication of primary-level statistics. The database will also collect information such as PPS number, name, address, date of birth, nationality, learning support status, Irish exemption status and class status as well as two optional items of sensitive personal data relating to ethnic or cultural background and religion. The latter two items require the written consent of parents for inclusion. The PPS number will serve as a primary identifier in the database and will allow for pupil identity to be validated to ensure that there are no duplicate enrolments in the system. Under social welfare legislation, both schools and the Department of Education and Skills are specified bodies which are allowed to ask individuals for their PPS number where such individuals have a transaction with the State. In this case, the individuals in question are availing of State-provided education.
The primary online database may only be accessed through a password-controlled account and only the school attended by the pupils and a small number of departmental staff will have access to that account. Access within the Department to the primary online database data is limited to the database team which currently is fewer than 15 people. No agency or other Government Department will have direct access to the primary online database. The Department proposes in the future to share some of the personal data stored in the database with other State bodies, namely, the Central Statistics Office under the Central Statistics Act, to assist in the compilation of national statistics; the National Council for Special Education under the Education and Welfare Act, in order to assist in supporting resource allocation for pupils with special educational needs; the Child and Family Agency under the Education and Welfare Act, to ensure that each child of compulsory school age is in receipt of an education; and the Department of Social Protection, to validate pupil identity. This comprehensive response to Senator Mullen's concerns should give him-----