Header Item Prelude
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Commencement Matters
 Header Item Coastal Erosion
 Header Item Education Policy
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Resignation of Member
 Header Item Order of Business
 Header Item Data Protection Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Data Protection Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 256 No. 9

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Chuaigh an Cathaoirleach i gceannas ar 14:30:00

Machnamh agus Paidir.

Reflection and Prayer.


Business of Seanad

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I have received notice from Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, she proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works and flood relief to put in place, in conjunction with Fingal County Council, a coastal erosion management plan for the Burrow, Portrane, County Dublin.

I have also received notice from Senator Victor Boyhan of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to consider introducing entrepreneurship education guidelines for schools to support a stronger focus on entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.

I have also received notice from Senator Martin Conway of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to provide an update on the request for an additional classroom at Doolin national school, County Clare.

I have also received notice from Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to outline the cross-Border measures that are undertaken when implementing emergency co-ordination preparations for adverse weather conditions in Ireland.

I have also received notice from Senator Fintan Warfield of the following matter:

The need the Minister for Health to address the waiting lists for hormone replacement therapy at St. Colmcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown, County Dublin.

I have also received notice from Senator Maura Hopkins of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to provide an update on the proposed upgrade of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon town.

I have also received notice from Senator Frank Feighan of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to provide an update on future plans for the ambulance base in Loughglynn, County Roscommon.

I have also received notice from Senator Catherine Noone of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Rural and Community Development to outline when it is proposed to carry out a review of the CLÁR programme and if he will consider extending the criteria for eligible areas.

I have also received notice from Senator Rose Conway-Walsh of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to provide an update on the measures in place to protect and preserve traditional seaweed harvesting rights.

Of the matters raised by the Senators suitable for discussion, I have selected those of Senators Clifford-Lee, Boyhan and Conway and they will be taken now. Senator Ó Donnghaile's matter had been selected but he subsequently withdrew it. I regret I had to rule out of order the matter submitted by Senator Hopkins on the ground that it is a repeat of a Commencement matter taken on 4 October 2017. I also regret I had to rule out of order the matter submitted by Senator Feighan on the ground that it is a repeat of a Commencement matter taken on 8 November 2017. I also regret I had to rule out of order the matter submitted by Senator Noone on the ground that it is a repeat of a Commencement matter taken on 17 January 2018. I also regret I had to rule out of order the matter submitted by Senator Conway-Walsh on the ground that it is a repeat of a Commencement matter taken on 25 January 2018. Senator Warfield may give notice on another day of the matter he wishes to raise.

Commencement Matters

Coastal Erosion

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I welcome the Minister of State to the Seanad. Following the recent snow event and Storm Emma the residents of Portrane are extremely upset and worried about the further coastal erosion in the area. There is a real risk now of many homes being flooded by the sea. If the Minister of State saw the news last night, he would have seen Grainne Hannigan talking about her home which is now in grave danger. Nothing real or practical has been done either by the Minister of State's Department or by Fingal County Council in many years and local residents are angry, frustrated and feel forgotten.

  The Minister of State's predecessor, Deputy Canney, visited the area last year and saw at first hand the disastrous situation facing families in Portrane. He gave a commitment to fund the necessary works. I believe the Office of Public Works, OPW, operates a minor flood mitigation works and coastal protection scheme under which applications for funding from local authorities are considered for measures up to €750,000 in each instance. Funding is also available for coastal erosion risk management studies. The funding is made available for areas identified as being at greatest risk of damage or loss of economic assets through coastal erosion or flooding.

  I know that Fingal County Council applied for and received funding of €57,800 under the scheme in 2012 to carry out a coastal erosion risk management study of the coast from Portrane up to Rush. However, none of the coastal protection measures assessed and recommended was implemented due to "a combination of negative cost benefit ratio analysis and environment constraints". I believe no additional funding has been sought by Fingal County Council to put any measures in place in Portrane. Perhaps the Minister of State could confirm whether Fingal County Council has made contact with his Department in recent days considering the extent of the damage in Portrane since Storm Emma and the recent snow event took place. Their impact has been very dramatic and if the Minister of State saw the news last night he would understand how dramatic it has been. If he did not see it, I would urge him to contact Mr. Paul Reid, the chief executive office of Fingal County Council, and ask him and his officials to prepare a report on Portrane as a matter of urgency.

  The former Minister of State, Deputy Canney, said last year that the funding is there. Homes and even lives are at risk now. The current Minister of State's Department and Fingal County Council need to get the finger out at this stage and help the people of Portrane.  They desperately need it. Action is required at this point not words. They have heard enough over the years. I urge the Minister of State to do something for the people of Portrane.

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I thank the Senator very much for raising this matter. I am pleased to provide an update on it. I visited Portrane on 26 January this year and met Fingal County Council officials, including the chief executive, local representatives and members of the community to discuss this matter. I fully appreciate the serious concerns of the local people, and the Office of Public Works, OPW, and I will work in whatever way we can with the council to assist it in finding a proper long-term solution to the problems at Portrane.

  It is important to note, however, that coastal protection and erosion generally is a matter for local authorities to identify and prioritise the issues along their coastlines. The OPW will co-operate with and assist Fingal County Council, and if a viable solution is identified, the local authority may undertake works using its own resources or, if necessary, apply for funding to my office under the OPW minor works scheme.  The following is an update of the progress so far undertaken by Fingal County Council with the approval of funding by my office.

  The council applied for and was approved funding of €57,800 in 2012 under the Office of Public Works' minor flood mitigation works and coastal protection scheme to carry out a coastal erosion risk management study of Portrane to Rush. This study was completed and the council has been working on the basis of its findings to identify an environmentally and economically viable solution to strengthen and rehabilitate the dune system at this location. This is the preferred and recommended solution to the erosion problems. I understand that the solution proposed in the risk management report may not be environmentally sustainable and the council is looking at this matter.

  Once Fingal County Council has identified a viable programme of works, it may apply to the Office of Public Works for funding. If funding is approved, then it is a matter for the council to progress the necessary works. The Office of Public Works is not currently in receipt of an application for funding from Fingal County Council under the minor works scheme for works at Portrane.

  I am aware that the recent storm event resulted in some further coastal erosion having an impact on an individual property.  Fingal County Council has inspected the area and will continue to liaise with the householder, the local community and the Fingal coastal liaison group in the coming days. Fingal County Council is actively seeking to deal with this matter and is working hard with the local community to find an appropriate long-term solution to the coastal erosion at Portrane.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I understand it is a matter for the local authority, first and foremost, but I call on the Minister of State to put pressure on the local authority to act in this regard because it has not done anything since 2012. As he outlined, funding was received to complete a study and that has been completed for some time. The strengthening and reinforcing of the existing dune system has not been done for various reasons. The Minister of State indicated that Fingal County Council is looking at the matter but it has been looking at the matter for a substantial period and nothing has been done. Homes will be lost and lives will be lost. Roads will be flooded. A serious risk to life is posed. We must act now. I call on the Minister of State to contact Fingal County Council and put pressure on it to act. Leaving the situation for a number of years and allowing residents to fend for themselves is no longer acceptable.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan It might also be helpful if local councillors in the area were to work through the local authority to ask the Minister of State to assist rather than having the Minister of State contact the local authority.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I know two local councillors, Adrian Henchy and Paul Mulvihill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We will leave it at that. If the Minister of State has not received an application his hands are tied.

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I have travelled around the country and I have seen a lot of coastal erosion. I have been in Portrane. I identified it as one of the priorities in terms of coastal erosion projects. It is one of the worst I have seen. I met local representative groups, those who are most affected, who are the people I want to protect, and I gave them a clear understanding of the position. One of my officials spoke to the people in one of those houses the night before last. I spoke to a great number of the residents who contacted me directly and I have given them a clear indication that my Department has written to Fingal County Council and also to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The solution is not simple.  The local authorities are responsible. We did fund it in 2012. The Senator is correct that it has taken from 2012 until now, but I am giving a clear indication that the residents are happy to allow me go ahead and have that meeting to see if I can come to a resolution. If we can do something in Portrane, I believe it could be echoed around the entire coast of the country but we have to start thinking outside the box when it comes to coastal erosion. We cannot have an application going in and being examined and investigated by the planners who then say the proposal does not blend in with the area. I do not want that because we will never see anything done about coastal erosion. For the past 20 years, Governments have ignored the problem of coastal erosion. I am giving the Senator a firm commitment that I am not ignoring it because in 20 years from now I believe coastal erosion will be one of the biggest issues to hit this country. We will lose many properties to the sea if we do not act now.

  I visited Scotland recently where I was told that 97 properties had fallen into the sea as a result of this problem. They are thinking the same way as me. I am with the Senator on this issue, but most of all I am with the people. I gave the people of Portrane, as well as Senator Reilly and his colleagues, a detailed response in terms of what I want to see happen in Portrane but I ask for space to allow me sit in the room with them to see if I can come up with a long-term solution for them. I am not saying my Department can deliver but I am saying that one Department is blaming the other. I want to put that to bed and see if a long-term solution can be found for the people of Portrane.

Education Policy

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Tá fáilte romhat, Aire. I ask An Seanadóir Boyhan to outline his matter.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I thank the Cathaoirleach for selecting this Commencement matter. I am very conscious of the Minister's commitment to entrepreneurship in terms of education. I see reference to education in his jobs document. I want to keep this issue active. It is very active in certain schools but in others there is not much of a focus on it and we have got to ask ourselves the reason for that.

  I have chosen to raise the five "Es", namely, engage, energise, enable, encourage and enterprise. When I talk about engage I mean how we can engage and communicate with younger people about the importance of entrepreneurship, business and all that goes with that. How can we energise, stimulate and be creative and innovative in terms of capacity building among young people regarding enterprise? How can we enable and encourage our young children to think critically and in a bigger way about enterprise and the importance of commerce in their lives? I believe we would find that young people by their nature are very enterprising. I can speak for myself in that regard. I recall keeping rabbits as a young child, brushing the Angora wool off them, sending it to the United Kingdom and getting British stamps in exchange, which I then had to sell to somebody else. Where people are given a yearning and a learning for enterprise they respond very well. I took the time to look at the Erasmus support, advanced learning and training opportunities, SALTO, participation EU programme and there are huge opportunities in that in terms of developing enterprise.

  Every school should foster entrepreneurial skills through new and creative ways of teaching and learning and all young people should benefit from at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving secondary school. I cite the mini-companies and mini campus companies.

  I do not doubt the Government's commitment in this area. I do not doubt the Minister's commitment or that of the Department but we need to address the reason it is not happening to a greater extent in some schools and is happening in some schools over and above others. It is an important part of education. Education is more than formal learning. There is informal learning also, and we know from experience that one can learn to be an entrepreneur. I would like to hear the Minister's response.

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I thank the Senator for raising this issue. This is an area in which I have a great interest. When I was Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation during the previous Government's period, I introduced a national strategy for entrepreneurship in Ireland.  This was the first time it had ever been done. This amazed me because, following the difficult period in our history between 2009 and 2014, the teeth of the crash, many people set up their own businesses for the first time. Had they not done so, 100,000 fewer people would be at work. Their impact, even in the worst of times, is significant.

  In good times, it is important we nurture entrepreneurship and develop a strategy in that regard. As the Senator rightly acknowledged, part of our action plan for this year is to produce a policy on entrepreneurship. It is important that we do this. We should set a national ambition that it will be part of our DNA to encourage entrepreneurship. One point I learned from my last ministerial job was that a wide range of factors helps a country be entrepreneurial and develop new businesses. One of them is culture and education. Of course, there are the financial services area, access to finance, government policy and so forth. However, the most enduring piece is to have the right attitude in encouraging people to take risks in their lives, cultivate curiosity, as well as the capacity to take on these issues, and that this is done from the earliest stage.

  However, against the backdrop of the 2026 target to have the best education and training service in Europe, this is one area in which we need to do better. Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe which has not explicitly developed an educational strategy for entrepreneurship. This needs to be corrected. To be fair, our education system, along with the reforms we have made to it, has greatly cultivated creativity, problem-solving and the sorts of skills which are important to entrepreneurship. These are now embedded in our curriculum. Increasingly in the junior cycle, there is much more emphasis on self-led learning where one is encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit in the learning activity itself.

  We have a wide range of excellent initiatives of mini-companies and local enterprise offices cultivating school competitions. There is much extracurricular work in encouraging young people to test their skills in an entrepreneurial environment. We can do more, however. We intend to develop guidelines for schools. Clearly, much can be done within the curriculum itself, along with the promotion of extracurricular activities. We can ensure education recognises the importance of risk-taking in its various curricular activities. It must also increase the exposure to entrepreneurs at an appropriate age. The transition year is a particularly important year when people can get exposure to different experiences. This too should be developed.

  I am looking forward to working with experts in the field and practitioners at the coalface to develop a policy which will set us in the right direction for the coming years.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I thank the Minister for his comprehensive response.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan It is nice to be appreciated, Minister.

School Accommodation Provision

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I thank the Minister, Deputy Bruton, for coming to the House to deal with this important issue.

  Doolin national school has 91 students. This is set to increase to 95 next September but I suspect it will be even more. The school has a great principal and team of teachers. I have always been impressed by the school's ethos and the staff's dedication to learning. The principal is out on her own in her dedication to her students and the work she does to develop an interest in learning among them. The school has applied for an additional classroom. This application is not just reasonable and important, but essential and critical. One class with 25 students is in a classroom designed for between 12 and 15 students. This is unacceptable and is a health and safety issue, as well as being unfair to the students and the teachers.

  The school has submitted two applications to the Department for funding for an additional classroom.  Both applications were submitted in 2017, one in the early part of the year and the other in the latter. I have been making representations relentlessly to the Department for some time on the issue. When we made representations last October, we received an acknowledgement. However, on 8 December we received a letter from the Department stating it had no application on file. Clearly, the information that had come from it was not correct because there was an application on file.

  A contract has been signed for a direct provision centre in Lisdoonvarna which is about three or four miles from Doolin national school. I have no doubt that some of the children who will live in the centre will be seeking educational advancement in the school. As September is only a number of months away, the classroom must be built during the summer. Funding must be sanctioned as a top priority based not just on all of the information I have given to date. I have also corresponded with the Department on the critical need for the project which has been amplified even more by the fact that the direct provision centre will be opened in Lisdoonvarna and that Doolin national school may be called upon to assist in meeting the educational needs of the young people who will stay at the centre. I am looking for a commitment from the Minister that the funding required will be provided as a matter of urgency in order that the tender documents can be prepared and the work done during the two-month summer holidays period to enable the classroom to be ready by September.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I thank the Senator for raising this matter. I apologise to him if the Department wrote to him with false information, as he indicated. There is, of course, an application from the school that was made originally in December 2016. At the time it was made the teacher complement was three mainstream teachers and one special education teacher. At that stage it was determined that there was no deficit of mainstream class accommodation in the school. However, the school was expanding and granted provisional sanction for an additional teaching post which was made conditional on the required enrolment being achieved last September. Having refused it on the grounds that there were just three mainstream teachers in the school, the Department is now in a position where it will review the application because I understand, as the Senator noted, that the school did reach the enrolment threshold of 90 pupils. The Department is reviewing the application in the light of the confirmation of the enrolment figure. Given what the Senator has said, I will ask that the review be accelerated in order that we can have a response for the school as quickly as possible.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway It is a welcome acknowledgement by the Minister that the school has reached the number of pupils required for the provision of additional accommodation. What is important, as the Minister will understand, is a timeline because the construction industry is doing exceptionally well and it will not be easy to find a company with a gap in its schedule to do this type of work. It needs to be booked in advance. I appreciate that the Minister will ask his officials to accelerate the review. Perhaps he might also indicate the time bubble at which we are looking for when a decision will actually be made?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am sure the Minister will do his best.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton To be fair, in dealing with these issues the Department's building unit operates fair criteria and applies the same rules to every school. I will ask for the application to be reviewed in the light of what has been said-----

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway And the opening of the direct provision centre.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton -----but I cannot give in advance the outcome of a process that is still under way within the Department.  I hear what the Senator is saying about the urgency and the prospect that there may be additional enrolment in the school in the future as a result of the new centre being opened. I will bring that to the attention of those conducting the review.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan What a wonderful place to go to school, in Doolin. It is a lovely part of the country. Senator Conway is very privileged in a way. I thank the Minister and Senators.

  Sitting suspended at 3 p.m. and resumed at 3.30 p.m.

Resignation of Member

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I have received notice in writing from Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh of his resignation as a Member of Seanad Éireann. I thank the Senator for his contribution during his service as a Member of the House and wish him well in the future.

Order of Business

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Order of Business is No. 1, Data Protection Bill 2018 – Committee Stage (resumed), to be taken at the conclusion of the Order of Business and adjourned after four hours, if not previously concluded.

Senator Catherine Ardagh: Information on Catherine Ardagh Zoom on Catherine Ardagh I raise the issue of inpatient beds for mental health services, in particular, for people who are suffering from anorexia nervosa. We have learned by way of the reply to a parliamentary question tabled by the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, Deputy Micheál Martin, that the State provides a mere three specialist beds at St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, for adults with this condition and that there are no dedicated child and mental health services, CAMHS, beds for those with eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa is a disease with a shockingly high mortality rate of 20%. Families throughout the country are crying out for inpatient beds for their children and young adults. I brought a case to the attention of the Minister and provided him with a myriad of general practitioner reports recommending urgent inpatient treatment for the individual in question, but, to date, treatment has not been made available. While the individual in question has spent a number of periods in St. James's Hospital receiving acute treatment, this does not address the underlying issue or provide a long-term remedy in treating the illness.

  Over the weekend we saw great work being done by the emergency services. Many doctors also did stellar work on the ground on some of the coldest nights to ensure homeless persons were brought in from the cold. I noted two specific cases involving homeless persons being committed to hospital. Although I struggle with the concept of committal, I accept and understand doctors on the ground acted professionally and responsibly. Through their hard work, for which I commend them, two people did not remain outside in the cold overnight when they might have died. If inpatient beds can be provided in such circumstances, it must be possible to provide inpatient beds for persons with anorexia nervosa whose families are crying out for beds for them. Unfortunately, the disease primarily affects women. I have copies of multiple reports from a general practitioner which support the case for providing an inpatient bed for the individual in question, yet none has been made available.

  I congratulate the emergency services - members of An Garda Síochána, the fire service, the ambulance service and the Irish Red Cross - as well as staff in the homeless agencies, farmers, local authority staff who cleared roads, the ESB, gas services and the many groups which came up trumps for us during the storm over the weekend. I also welcome the decision of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, to double the fuel allowance paid last week. Fuel poverty is among the toughest hardships experienced by people on the margins. On my walkabouts I am constantly greeted by people at their door, especially on cold winter nights, who are wrapped up in layers of clothing and wearing gloves. Many are ready to go to bed at 6 p.m. because they do not want to waste money on fuel for the evening. Sadly, this sight is all too common. While Members take a warm house for granted, many others do not. The increase in the fuel allowance was welcome, but we must do more to eradicate fuel poverty and ensure that, rather than worrying about substantial fuel bills, elderly people will be comfortable in their homes in their time of need.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Having watched television and listened to various politicians speak about the emergency weather conditions in recent days, I was surprised to note that few of them, if any, referred to the Defence Forces. I know that members of the Defence Forces are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Like many volunteers, they left their families and went outside in difficult conditions.  Indeed I had experience over the period, and I thank the Department of Defence and its Minister of State, of a family which was facing a bereavement. The military stood up, collected members of that family and brought them to their dying mother. They are to be commended on that. I wish we would remember every now and then that the men in uniform are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They do a damn good job and need to be respected for it.

  I want to bring two issues to the attention of the Leader. The first is that I would like to have a debate in the House on bullying in the workplace. It is a serious issue. It is known that I have an interest in this particular area but of late the number of people contacting me on the issue of bullying has been shocking. I wonder why the workplace has become such an unhappy place. I am not sure whether we should be talking to the Minister for Justice and Equality or the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection but we need to have that debate. I will divert to the Leader to choose the correct Minister.

  The other issue I wanted to raise relates to an email I received this morning from a young man seeking car insurance. He has a 2006 registered car worth approximately €2,000 and he was quoted €2,600 for an insurance policy on it. I know that the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, did a lot of work on that issue when he was at the Department of Finance. Do we have an update on where it is going? The young people of this country are being ripped off left, right and centre while insurance companies are paying dividends. Last week a dividend of 34 cent on the share was paid to shareholders in FBD Insurance. I think it was 34 cent. It is amazing that FBD can pay dividends to shareholders but cannot provide reasonably priced insurance. The price of insurance for that young man is more than the value of the car. All he wants to do is to be legal on the road. We need to have an update from the Department of Finance on that issue. If the Leader had one, it would be very helpful. I expect him to deal with that in his own time.

Senator Frances Black: Information on Frances Black Zoom on Frances Black Like many others I am glad to be back in Leinster House after the snow last week. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Taoiseach and his team on how Storm Emma was handled last week. It is hard to get every single detail right in these emergency situations but, credit where credit is due, it was handled very well. As many have said, enormous credit must also go to the front-line workers who kept vital services going when conditions were at their worst. It was really inspiring to see doctors and nurses braving the snow to make it into hospitals and to see bus drivers getting people home safely. There was a great sense of community in certain areas. In my own area my neighbours came out and dug my car out at certain points. One does not get to see one's neighbours that often but there was a nice sense of camaraderie. I hope we remember this dedication and community support when people raise their concerns about resources and pay.

  One thing that does need to be improved however is communication from Irish Water. We saw increased usage during the storm but it was very late in the day that Irish Water announced supply restrictions from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The notice was incredibly short and communication was not so widespread. Many people were therefore not expecting to wake up this morning with no water. It would be good if the Minister could ensure that Irish Water keeps restrictions as low as possible, that the deadline is stuck to, and that Irish Water communicates better in cases such as this.

  Finally, I was a little disappointed that last week's closures meant that the debate on councillors' conditions was postponed. I have been speaking to many councillors, from every corner of the country, in preparation and I want to make sure that their concerns are heard. For when will the debate be rescheduled? It would be great to have an understanding of what is going on.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine I want to talk about health. Following the recent emergency I want to thank the health service staff, the health care staff and the emergency services staff who went beyond the call of duty for the last number of days. They should be recognised for minimising the risk to the public during the status red weather alert. It is clear that these professionals in health care and catering, these porters, nurses and midwives, and those working in diagnostics went above and beyond the call of duty.  Many of them camped and slept in hospitals or nearby hotels to ensure care was given. In the case of my local hospital, St. James's Hospital, many residents offered beds to staff who were trying to keep the system going by making arrangements such as shift changes to ensure their colleagues who lived further away would not have to come in, thereby putting themselves at risk. The extreme weather protocol took account of and properly recognised the remuneration of staff who were exposed to danger while working and travelling to work in hazardous conditions. The Taoiseach told people to make sure they were indoors from 4 p.m. on Thursday - this was done because of health and safety factors - but the national shutdown did not, unfortunately, apply to many front-line emergency workers. We need to find a way to recognise and acknowledge the efforts of staff who braved the elements to go to work last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. When the group of health unions meets tomorrow to discuss the protocol for adverse weather conditions, perhaps it might find a way to thank those who went to work at serious risk to themselves.

I support the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, INMO, in calling for the first two weeks of March to be treated as an emergency period in the public health service. The INMO was extremely concerned about the pressures that were already on the health service but which were brought to bear to a greater extent in the emergency care area during the five-day period of severe weather. It is calling for an emergency period to be declared for three main reasons. First, the extended period of severe weather led to delayed discharges and caused a backlog in patients being scheduled for admission for elective procedures. Second, rosters will have to be rearranged to accommodate the rest periods needed by INMO members and other front-line staff who have worked tirelessly over extended periods. This, in turn, will reduce the number of staff available to provide services in the short term. Third, INMO records show that the trolley count for February 2018 was 19% higher than for February 2017, with almost 11,000 patients waiting on trolleysfor inpatient beds, which indicates that hospitals were already overburdened before the adverse weather event and are now bursting at the seams. For these reasons, emergency status must be afforded to the next two weeks. All measures to resource and staff the health service properly must be explored. The assistance of private acute hospital services should also be sought. I welcome the HSE's statement today confirming that it will prioritise vulnerable persons when appointments are being rescheduled. Another difficult issue about which we need to think is the inability of some home helps to access people who were snowed in. What happened was a true meitheal in a very true Irish sense of the word.

I note that Mr. Tony O'Brien has just announced that he will retire from his position as director general of the HSE in the coming months. I wish him well.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I join Senator Máire Devine in wishing Mr. Tony O'Brien well. I have seen his statement that he does not intend to renew his term when it expires in the summer.

  I welcome everyone back after the snow. Like other Senators, I commend all those involved in the emergency services, the local authorities, the transport infrastructure agencies, the health service and the ESB. Many people worked long hours in arduous and awful conditions to keep services going. I saw immense community spirit in my own area in the south inner city of Dublin which I know was replicated across the country. It was a time when people pulled together well.

  On a positive note, I wish everyone a happy International Women's Week. It is also Seachtain na Gaeilge. We had a great event in the Members' private dining room earlier today. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn spoke as Gaeilge to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge and International Women's Week and as part of the Vótáil 100 commemorations to celebrate the centenary of women's suffrage. She exhorted us all to do more to speak Irish in the Chamber. I will certainly try to take up that challenge in the coming years and I am sure others will do likewise.  The Irish Syria Solidarity Movement held a press conference today, which I attended with Deputy Joan Collins, at which Ibrahim Halawa and others spoke. Eyewitnesses spoke about their experience of the dreadful bombardment of eastern Ghouta by the forces of Bashar al-Assad, his Russian allies and others, the targeting of civilians, the appalling deaths of so many children and civilian casualties. One medic working for Médecins Sans Frontières in eastern Ghouta described it as a catastrophic experience, where people are being denied access to food, medicine and shelter and referred to the immense psychological stress of being under constant bombardment. Rather than having a debate, perhaps we should instead consider a cross-party Seanad motion of the sort we passed on condemning the bombardment of Aleppo. I am happy to work with the Leader and others to try to draft an appropriate motion to bring to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Russian ambassador and others. I will take that up further.

  I support the Barnardos lost child campaign. It met with colleagues today about the campaign, which aims to ensure that no child is lost and to ask the Government to take a number of steps to support children through childhood, including ensuring they have somewhere suitable to live, the extension of the ECCE scheme for an additional year and other measures which Barnardos said would cost just under €250 million in a full year. That is not a high price, given the large amount of support it is calling for for children in order to ensure no child is lost in Ireland.

Senator Gabrielle McFadden: Information on Gabrielle McFadden Zoom on Gabrielle McFadden Like others, I commend the work done by different agencies over the weekend. The Defence Forces, the Civil Defence, county council staff, gardaí, fire and ambulance staff, HSE staff, volunteers and county councillors all over the country came out and worked beyond the call of duty. People cleared roads, took calls and in some cases worked 18 hours a day in the same manner as the Defence Forces. On numerous occasions I have asked about the pay and conditions of our Army personnel. I recently called for a debate on the subject with the Minister of State and I hope that would be facilitated in light of the fact that we have had bad weather and the Defence Forces came out and worked. Yet again, they rescued the town of Athlone as they did during previous flooding. I again ask for a debate on the matter. Like Senator Black, I call for the debate on councillors' pay and conditions to be brought forward, bearing in mind that they also worked beyond the call of duty over the weekend.

  I also ask that people support local businesses. Family-owned small businesses tried to stay open during the recent bad weather to facilitate locals. Now that we are all back on the roads and are again shopping in large stores I ask people not to forget the small businesses which stayed open and tried to keep the country afloat during the bad weather. I ask that the Leader bring forward the debate on the pay and conditions of councillors and those in the Defence Forces.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden The Government learned the lesson of 1982. There was a different response this time because it was a case of making hay while the sun shone. The recent weather was a case of making hay while the snow fell because the Government lost no opportunity to take advantage of the situation to promote itself, which is very good. Well done to the Taoiseach. He would make an excellent weather forecaster.

  I would like to commend the staff of Met Éireann, RTÉ, TV3 and local radio who went out in very difficult circumstances to produce reports. Local radio was not available in 1982, but it was a big advantage on this occasion because conditions varied in different parts of the country. Roscommon and other counties were hit very badly. I compliment the emergency services for their response, as well as Roscommon University Hospital, Portiuncula Hospital, the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon, Oakwood Nursing Home and all other nursing homes throughout the country.  The staff made it into those hospitals and nursing homes and provided food and nourishment for all their patients and residents. There was no report of any difficulties in that respect. We should commend all those staff.

  Senator Craughwell mentioned our Army. However, nobody mentioned the work done by the prison officers who have to provide cover 365 days a year. The prisons cannot be closed. The full staff complement was required in Castlerea Prison for the duration of the emergency weather event. I met a prison officer who had to make his way to his place of work in that prison and work the hours required to ensure the security of the State. The work done by the prison officers was not mentioned during this period but I am mentioning it now in this House.

  I commend the work done by the Army and the Garda-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris And the Naval Service and the Air Corps.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden -----and its members' quick response to the looting of the Lidl store in Fortunestown Lane and the Centra store in Jobstown in Dublin which was most regrettable. It involved a very small group who got out of hand but the gardaí took control.

  Also, the service provided by the local shops was brilliant. Our local store, Castlecoote Stores, owned by Oscar and Ann Neilan, was open from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. and provided food and sustenance for all its customers in the area. Oscar Neilan also distributed fresh milk all over the region for that period without fear or favour. I also pay tribute to the local publicans who stayed open during the crisis and provided shelter to their neighbours and friends when required.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan There might be a conflict of interest there.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Well said.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden I was not working myself but I was not unavailable to be in attendance when required. Thanks be to God nobody was killed during the bad weather event and I compliment the action taken by the Government. It took timely action and it certainly prevented damage. Well done to the Cathaoirleach and his colleagues for closing these Houses last Wednesday evening.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I want to raise the issue of horticulture and Bord Bia's Making a World of Difference strategy document, which is part of the programme for Government. It might be no harm at some stage to request the Minister to come into this House - I appreciate he was in the House recently - to deal specifically with the horticulture industry. It is a very important part of the agriculture sector and the economy. I refer to the way in which we can develop our sugar beet industry. There is now a view that we should be developing that industry again. I refer also to increasing our potato production. One of the targets Bord Bia has set in its 21 key action points in its policy refers to how potato production can be increased. We need to increase it and the market needs that also. There is a demand for it, so how can we increase potato production and the production of soft fruits and berries in terms of food, jams and preserves? There is a demand for them. Bord Bia has identified a real demand for Irish soft food production, and also for salads and organics. There are 21 key objectives in this horticulture document the Government has adopted, which is Bord Bia's strategy up to 2022. It is about making a world of a difference and growing our horticulture industry. I would appreciate if the Leader would ask the Minister of State, Deputy Doyle, to come into the House for a debate on that, but specifically to focus on the 21 action items in the Bord Bia policy on horticulture.

Senator James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I want to be associated with wishing Tony O'Brien well in any future endeavour he may take. As the Minister who appointed him to that position in the Health Service Executive, I thank him for all his work on behalf of us all in trying to keep our health service going through a very difficult time.

 I also congratulate the emergency services. I will not list them all but I want to mention also all the community activists who went out and did so much to support their communities.

Senator Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey Hear, hear.

Senator James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I want to mention also all the family doctors who kept their premises open until it was no longer safe to do so and reopened on Friday afternoon.

  In the context of the weather, I want to speak about an issue raised earlier, that is, coastal erosion, especially in Fingal and Portrane. I was there yesterday evening and there is nothing like standing within 3 ft. of a 20 ft. precipice to remind one of how severe a situation is for a family. Four years ago it was 50 ft. away. On the beach one can see the sand bags that were put down next to the cliff edge to protect it in 2014. They are now some 35 ft. from the cliff base.  I stood in a public park area where underneath the grass, which looked sound, there was 4 ft. of an indent where the sea has taken the sand away and it is deadly dangerous. People who do not know the area, older people or children could easily have a serious accident. The situation for this family is that three generations are living there - Gráinne, Amy and Faye. Gráinne showed me a video of a young man trying to hold the sea back at the height of the tide coming in. He was trying to keep a flimsy galvanised fence up because the original paling they had put up had fallen in. Those people are about to lose their house. We had the Minister of State, Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran, in the House this morning and he told us that he is open to having the situation addressed but we need Fingal County Council, which has done sterling work during the emergency in recent days, to take action and to act now in a compassionate and humanitarian way and with a sense of urgency. We have a homeless crisis and we are now going to add three more people to the homelessness list. We could have a fatality. The situation is very unsafe. There are 14 other houses at immediate risk. How many houses are going to fall into the sea before we take action?

  It is time to put aside all the red tape. We have had reports. The then Minister of State, Brian Hayes, was in Portrane in 2012 and we have had several Ministers there since. The time for talk is over and the time for action is now. We can have a medium-term solution. I call on the Minister of State to bring together Fingal County Council, the heritage people and the environmental people with the community to resolve this issue in the medium term, but we need immediate action now to allow this family to save their home. They have been there since before the 1960s, as has that house. Instead of focusing on reasons why we might not, should not or could not do something, could we please take action and prevent another three generations of a family being made homeless? I address this to Fingal County Council. Could we not do the right thing - the humanitarian thing - and resolve this issue and allow those people to save their home that has been in their family for decades?

  I will finish by saying that if action is not taken very soon, not alone will this house go but 14 other houses and businesses - a pub, restaurant and chipper - will go as well. Once they breach a little mound, which is only a short distance away, the whole of the Burrow of Portrane will be isolated with 1,200 to 1,500 people living there. How much will it cost to fix that and to put in a new road and bridge? I urge Fingal County Council to please act and to show the humanity I know those involved have and save this house and this family from becoming homeless.

Senator Maria Byrne: Information on Maria Byrne Zoom on Maria Byrne I too pay tribute and thank the front-line staff, the in-house staff and those who worked in hospitals and were out clearing roads and all the volunteers as well as the Army, the Civil Defence, the Garda and council staff - everybody who was involved in the clean-up right around the country. I pay compliment to them and the many volunteers who joined them.

  Yesterday was a historic day in Limerick and in the mid-west in that we started off the morning with a visit from the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Heather Humphreys, who announced 600 jobs. Initially, 60 jobs will be based in Shannon Airport and 600 jobs will be based in the mid-west. It was a very welcome, good news story. It is the biggest amount of jobs to be announced in recent years. I welcome Edwards Lifesciences to the area. It showed a video yesterday of its work. The company is involved in making valves for the heart. It is unbelievable what technology can do and how far science has come. I welcome the company to the mid-west.

  Later yesterday we had the opening of the new courthouse in Limerick. I welcome the fact that the Supreme Court is sitting there for the next three days. This is the first time it has sat in Limerick. The court rarely comes out of Dublin so it is a very welcome good news story not only for Limerick but for the region.

  On a side note, I was a member of the board of Innovate Limerick when I was on the council. We have bought premises where we consider there is potential for businesses to locate.  Yesterday morning we started off with a visit to Troy film studios where 450 people work locally. That is certainly a very good news story in that there are people from Limerick School of Art and Design and others who are in an apprenticeship programme, so yesterday was a very positive day.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I wonder if the Cathaoirleach has recently been down Fitzwilliam Street. It is very interesting. There is an enormous cleared vacant site. It is about the size of a city block. It is owned by a State company, the ESB, and in the 1960s it took on the longest continuous Georgian streetscape in the world and devastated it. It was quite extraordinary. It was an Irish State-owned company and it hired English architects who came here and made the most ridiculous and offensive comments. I recall one of them saying that buildings have a lifetime and these houses were beyond their lifetime. Look at Amsterdam or Rome. There is a church in Rome that was used as a pagan temple during the Roman empire. It is complete and absolute nonsense. This represented the greatest, most ignorant and concerted attack on our cultural heritage. There is nothing like this streetscape in the entire world. The ESB was originally told by the planning department in Dublin County Council to reinstate the facade it had destroyed but apparently it managed to weasel around that. It now intends to put up some other modern architect's idea of what a Georgian facade should be. I suppose it is too late to rectify this but I wanted to express outrage and also to say thank you to people like Desmond and Mariga Guinness who in the 1960s took up this very unpopular cause and set out to defend our Georgian heritage. It is a very sad day when an Irish State-owned company would launch such a devastating attack. This streetscape is irreplaceable. It has gone from being the longest continuous Georgian streetscape in the world to just being another inner city area. I thank the Cathaoirleach.

Senator Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I welcome the opportunity to put on record my appreciation of all those in the emergency services following the recent severe weather event. It gave us an opportunity as families and communities to pause and reflect away from busy lifestyles. The children around the country enjoyed it but we have to recognise the huge challenges it brought to our citizens, emergency services and communities. Waterford, where I come from, and the south east in particular was hit badly, but along with other Senators I commend the National Emergency Coordination Centre under the chairmanship of Sean Hogan, who I believe did an outstanding job in the interest of citizen safety in communicating the challenges that were about to befall the country. They gave fair warning to all to prepare and we saw the very positive results where people were able to stock up and prepare for the event as it so happened.

  I want to be associated with the commendations to the various emergency services - the health workers, the Garda, the Army, the local authority workers as well as contractors - and to my former colleagues in the ESB, who went out in all weathers to ensure services were restored as soon as possible. I commend also the volunteers throughout the country. It is in a crisis that we see the true Irish spirit and volunteerism that exists in all our communities. I refer to the Red Cross and the Civil Defence. What I saw was a huge show of support to local communities. The farming community came out in strength and used their resources and machinery to clear local roads and gain access to people who were isolated. It heartens all of us to see the response made in recent days.

  I ask the Leader to provide time at some stage for a debate on resources for local authorities and the emergency services. That should be had at a time of calm when we can reflect on the challenges of this particular event, the roads damage that happened as a result of ice and snow, and the resources local authorities will need to repair them. I commend and appreciate all of those throughout the country who put their shoulders to the wheel during this event.

Senator Joe O'Reilly: Information on Joe O'Reilly Zoom on Joe O'Reilly I join in congratulating front-line workers, the emergency services, the volunteers and all those who assisted in any way during the recent adverse weather, as well as the National Emergency Coordination Group, which did extraordinary good work. I echo the gracious compliments paid by Senator Black to An Taoiseach for his leadership role in this entire emergency.

  This storm has played havoc with the road network with frost, thaw, floods and snow. All these combined weather conditions have damaged the pavement of the roads considerably, creating a network of potholes and, as a result, havoc. It is a serious issue across the country and particularly acute in County Cavan. Up to 96% of the road network in Cavan is made up of smaller county and regional roads. The regional roads linking towns in County Cavan are effectively primary roads for those who work and live in those towns and surrounding areas. These county roads are a vital network for farmers and others engaged in various activities. We got a welcome increase of 20% in the road allocation this year. However, that was on foot of a 50% reduction during the recession. Road grants came back up 10% last year and 20% this year. There is still a long way to go, however.

  The Minister must be invited to the House to discuss giving a special allocation to the county councils to deal with the road crisis. For counties like Cavan, which does not have a rail network or buses in the main, except on the primary route, the N3, the road network is vital. I am calling for a special allocation and the Minister to come to the House to discuss it.

  I second Senator Craughwell's remarks on car insurance. It is a shocking problem for our young people and is acute in counties with no other alternative forms of transport.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I too commend the National Emergency Coordination Group and all the State agencies and their personnel which were busy and helpful over the past several days dealing with the severe weather we had, particularly in the midlands and in the east.

  I would also like to add my support to the Senators who raised the question of the poor pay and conditions of our councillors. These are the front-line troops in our democracy. They might not all have been on the television like Senator O'Reilly in Cavan was. However, he was representative of so many of them in all of the various counties offering assistance to their neighbours and communities. Their work goes unheard. It is somewhat shocking that these people, who are always first on call and do so much, are so neglected. If any issue cries out for redress, their situation does. I look forward to an early debate on this matter. It is proper that all parties act in unison on this issue.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I also add my voice of congratulations to everybody in the Government, the agencies and civil servants involved over the past several days in preventing what was a bad situation for many people from becoming a nightmare. Much credit is due for this.

  I second what Senator Craughwell and others have said about car insurance premia and how these affect young people.  This is an issue I have brought up before. It is one to which we really need to return, particularly to consider the plight of younger people who have returned from abroad, perhaps having had to leave through no fault of their own. They are finding that their driving experience abroad is not being taken into account when premiums are being calculated. This is a source of serious concern and an issue we should discuss.

  There has been a lot of talk about the Government's promotion, through the strategic communications unit, of Project Ireland. Much of the talk has focused on whether the lines were blurred between the giving of legitimate public information at taxpayers' expense and party political propaganda in which election candidates were featured and so on. I am disappointed that the best argument the Government seemed to come up with was that the other crowd had just been as bad in its day. That may well be true, but people should go back and look at the McKenna judgment and what it had to state about the use of taxpayers' money by the Government in promoting one side of the argument in a referendum. It should be learned that there is a spirit in the use of taxpayers' money. I am disappointed that the media have focused on whether the lines were blurred, not on the question of whether it was appropriate in the first place to spend millions of taxpayers' money to tell people about what the Government was proposing to do, which might or might not come to pass, and which the media would be in a position to cover. This is not about the seeking of submissions in advance of a report being produced or telling potential victims about sources of redress and that there is a place to which they should go. It is not about telling social welfare recipients what their entitlements are in the light of certain changes. That would certainly involve the legitimate spending of public money, but spending large amounts of public money to tell people about a grand plan, however good it is, is an abuse. It is a misuse of the booty of power by those who happen to be in power. All of the main parties stand accused of being flaithúlach with the people's money in a way that may be allowed technically but which still happens to benefit them in a way that is mainly political and which carries relatively very little benefit for the public. I would really appreciate a debate on the issue. Regardless of whether I am right or wrong, I am raising a legitimate issue about when it is appropriate to spend taxpayers' money and whether we have become too loose about the criteria under which we allow ourselves to spend taxpayers' money when in government. There is much to be commended in what the Government has done in recent years and I am sure there is much to be commended in the plan, but if the Government wants to subvent local media - I am all for this - it should do so directly. On doing so under the guise of telling people about projects, if there had been similar expenditure in promoting electronic voting, in retrospect, would we have considered it a good use of money? The answer to that question is clearly no. When there is something the public needs to know, by all means spend taxpayers' money, but when a Government is trying to tell it what it proposes to do in the future if it stays in office, frankly, that is spending that goes too far.

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I also wish Mr. Tony O'Brien, director general of the HSE, well. He took over in 2012 at a very difficult time for the health service and did make a difference. I saw the difference he had made in Roscommon University Hospital and the setting up of the Saolta University Health Care Group in very difficult circumstances. The HSE and the health service will always be difficult areas to sort out effectively.

  Today marks the centenary of the death of John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party which was a moderate nationalist party. He fought for home rule which was granted in 1914 but suspended on the outbreak of the First World War. He urged Irish men to fight in the Great War for the freedom of small nations and ensure the implementation of home rule. He had huge political skills and was a diplomat, a democrat and a moderate, unlike some other politicians. I refer to the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg whose comments at the weekend were scandalous. He should withdraw them. He said our strategy had resulted from the controversy before Christmas involving the former Tánaiste, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and the irresponsible vote chasing immaturity of the Taoiseach. It was very undiplomatic language to use.  The Conservative MP should withdraw those comments in the light of what is happening with Brexit. John Redmond was an MP who was mature and reflective but also made a difference. I think that he was certainly missed 100 years ago and that we should remember this man who has a complex history. There were many outstanding parts to that history until events happened. We could have had a devolved government on the island of Ireland.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I reiterate what my colleagues have said and thank all the people who worked in the health care sector over the last week, including people who had to stay in hospitals because they were not able to travel and, more importantly, because they wanted to provide care to patients in hospitals. There were many people working in psychiatric services, in general hospitals and in all hospitals across the country, including doctors, nurses, care assistants and catering staff, who did everything possible to ensure that the health and safety of patients was given priority over their own interests. It is extremely important that we recognise their commitment and loyalty, and the way they delivered and continue to deliver a service in very difficult circumstances. It is important to recognise that and I join colleagues in thanking and praising them for the work they did over the last week.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I thank the 17 Members of the House for their contribution to the Order of Business. On behalf of myself and the Government, I thank and pay tribute to all our first responders-----

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Hear, hear.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer -----health care workers, including nurses, doctors, domestic staff, porters, catering staff, gardaí, Civil Defence, prison officers, the fire brigade, council staff and the ESB. It showed the importance and the dedication of our public service and public servants. They were led by Mr. Sean Hogan, chair of the National Emergency Coordination Group, NECG. I thank him and the staff of Met Éireann for their work over the four days. The decision to ask people not to use roads or travel was wise. That avoidance of danger meant people did not die on the roads. It is a testament to the fact there was vision by members of the NECG. It shows that community spirit is alive and well in our country, in our cities, in our towns and in rural Ireland, where neighbours became neighbours of old again and where people called, visited and ensured that others were okay, that driveways were cleared of snow and that people were safe and well. In the city of Cork, which I come from, men and women stayed overnight in camp beds in hospitals or were put up in hotels. A consultant in Cork University Hospital ran from Innishannon to the hospital. Catering staff went out to make sure that food was supplied to the hospital when the trucks could not get in. That is dedication. People walked to work, including first responders. We must also give credit to RTÉ, in particular our regional correspondents, and to those who work in TV3, for keeping us informed. It was a community effort by the people of Ireland to ensure that people were safe. People worked long hours and walked to work. They did whatever was necessary to ensure that people were kept safe in our hospitals and that services were running. I commend everybody on the work they did, including volunteers and those who were paid. We are a small island with a huge heart that reaches out beyond ourselves to ensure that we look after each other. It is the epitome of what is good about us as a people.

  Senator Ardagh raised the issue of eating disorders. It was eating disorders awareness week last week. She is right that there is a deficit in beds but it is not just about beds. I know Fianna Fáil's leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, raised it. The HSE has committed to developing a plan relating to the development of services for eating disorders.  Up to 5% of our population is affected. The HSE, in launching a new model of care, is committed to creating eight adult and children eating disorder units throughout the country allowing for faster access to assessment and it is investing up to €2.8 million. This is about ensuring people can access services but, equally, I agree with the Senator that there is an issue relating to CAMHS, which needs to be fundamentally addressed, and it is not good enough or acceptable that there are waiting lists for CAMHS. The HSE, as part of its plan, announced in January a step-down model of care delivery, a specialist training programme along with a dedicated national eating disorder network and specialised inpatient eating disorder programmes within key psychiatric units nationally as well as in local hospitals, and the creation of additional care teams through the dedicated network. It will be a collaborative approach. New clinical posts are being advertised but more action is needed on the issue. It is important to have that debate and I am happy to ask the Minister to come to the House in this regard.

Senator Craughwell raised the issue of bullying. It is important to have a debate. There is no place, and can be no place, for bullying in any workplace, whether it is Teach Laighean, a small shop, a school staffroom or a major semi-State or private company.

Senators Reilly, Craughwell and Mullen raised the issue of insurance. The Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy D'Arcy, has been in the House on a number of occasions to discuss the issue. The Government established an insurance working group under the chairmanship of the Minister of State. An interim report was published in January with 15 of the 33 recommendations carried out. It is important that the working group be allowed to continue its work. More than half of the 71 associated actions have been implemented, which highlights the importance of the Government communicating with people.Senator Mullen referred to the issue of returning emigrants. In that case, protocols have been agreed with Insurance Ireland and they are being implemented. They commit insurers to accepting claims-free driving experience in other countries. Senators Craughwell and Reilly referred to the cost of insurance. Motor insurance premia have stabilised. CSO data, which is independent of Government, show a 16.3% reduction in cost from the peak in July 2017. If that is not an example of the need for Government to communicate, I do not know what is. Senator Mullen was not aware of that.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Saying it on the floor of the Seanad is much cheaper than buying newspaper space.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Senator is a learned man who reads a lot. If he did not know that, then there is a need for the strategic communications unit. He just made the case for it.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen The Government has the free platform of the Houses.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The problem is, as the Senator will be aware, very few listen to us in here.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We can have the debate another time, not on the Order of Business.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer We should examine the report on the cost of motor insurance. I agree that there is a need to reduce the cost further and there is an obligation on all of us to work together to do that.

  I join Senators Craughwell and McFadden in praising our Defence Forces in the context of Storm Emma. The men and women of the Defence Forces also deserve huge admiration and praise for their role in peacekeeping and for the role they play in the State. The Senators were correct to raise that.

  Senator Black raised the issue of Irish Water communications. There is a need to communicate strategically, properly and in a timely manner. Irish Water is doing a good job in communicating. This issue again makes the case for the strategic communications unit and the need to provide more information. When it became clear that there was an issue with water supply, Irish Water mobilised on social media, although I accept that not everybody is on social media. Those who opposed Irish Water and payments to ensure we have running water now have a question to answer in the context of the company today. I take the Senator's point regarding the need for timely communication.  Senators Black, McFadden and Coghlan raised the issue of councillors' pay and conditions. As the Cathaoirleach knows, it was on the clár for last week but because of the decision to close the Houses, it was not debated. That debate will now take place on 27 March. It is not that we will not debate it. It has just been delayed.

Senator Devine referred to the health service, health care workers and the INMO campaign. I would be happy to have the Minister attend the House on that matter.

I congratulate Senator Bacik on her sterling work on Vótáil 100. I hope that we will all join her and our colleagues on international women's day on 8 March as we celebrate the centenary of women's suffrage. It is important to have that debate, which the House will in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow's statements on foreign affairs will be an opportune time to debate Syria with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney. I would be happy to facilitate a cross-party motion on Syria.

I am tempted to remind Senator Leyden that 2010 was the last bad outcome for snow and ice and that the Fianna Fáil Party was in government. We have learned from its mistakes.

Senator Boyhan raised the important issue of horticulture and the 21 key action points. I would be happy to have the Minister attend the House to discuss the matter.

Senators Reilly, Devine, Feighan and Bacik referred to the impending resignation of Mr. Tony O'Brien, chief executive of the HSE. As a former Chairman of the health committee, I pay tribute to Mr. O'Brien and thank him for the professional and courteous manner in which he dealt with the committee, and particularly me as its Chair. I always found him to be a most engaging and committed person who had only one motivation, that was, to ensure that we had a competent, caring and strong health care system that worked for the patient. I wish him well and thank him for his service. As Senator Feighan rightly stated, he has left the health service in a better place than when he found it. He is not universally popular because of some of his decisions, but he managed the health system and HSE in a time of diminished budgets.

Senator Reilly also made an impassioned plea to Fingal County Council regarding a particular family. I hope that it will listen to him. This is about ensuring that the family is safe from homelessness.

I join Senator Byrne in congratulating the people of the mid-west on the 600 new jobs. Members will be glad to hear that it is the largest number of jobs announced outside of Dublin, which shows that the Government governs beyond the M50. I congratulate Limerick and commend all involved in Innovate Limerick.

Senator Norris mentioned the ESB building on Fitzwilliam Square. The ESB began a major overhaul of that building at the end of last month. I wish it well. I was not around when it demolished the old Georgian streetscape. The Senator made a good point. This was the subject of an article in The Irish Timesin recent days and there have also been previous decisions. I thank the Senator for raising the matter.

Senator O'Reilly made a pertinent contribution on the issue of roads. As we all know, there are craters in our roads and footpaths have deteriorated as a consequence of the storm. The knock-on effects of the storm will have a profound impact on county and city councils. I join the Senator in asking the Minister to consider giving them extra funding to repair roads, some of which have crumbled to the point of needing complete overhauls as opposed to patching.

Senator Mullen raised the issue of the strategic communications unit, SCU, and the national development plan. I am loath to start a political row with the Senator on the issue-----

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Just give us a debate on it. That is all I ask.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I would be happy to have a debate on communications in government. Do people want the Government not to communicate at all? Do they want to cease communications on health, insurance, social protection, the national development plan-----

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I believe that is what is called "a false dichotomy".

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The problem-----

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen There is a happy medium between overload and nothing.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer -----that Senator Mullen and others have is that they do not want to see good news in terms of the national development plan.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen No, that is not true.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer They do not want to see €116 billion being spent on improving the lives of our people.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Let the good news tell itself.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The other point which was raised, which I do have to ask about in a rhetorical sense, is what does the media cover? Whom do they want to see on the front page of newspapers? What do they want to see? What sells newspapers? Rather than just focusing on one part of communication, there is a two-way street here.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I agree.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I would not be afraid of having a debate about the role of the media and how they cover politics, and how they cover any topic for that matter, whether it is the courts, education or whatever. I would be happy to have that debate.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Please.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I think it is important.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I think a lot of people would make a lot of interesting contributions.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We are not having a debate now.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I know but there are 700 press officers across Departments.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Yes, which is a hell of a lot of public money to begin with-----

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer So-----

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen -----before we start counting the price of putting ads in newspapers.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee It is not Fine Gael election candidates that are supposed to be getting public relations.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer If the Senator was-----

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I am not having a go at press officers. I am just saying-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Please.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer There you go. So, you see-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Can we restore some order? If the debate is offered and agreed, we can have a two or three-hour debate some evening.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer We will do that but it is important to have balance though in what we come into the House with. I am not saying Senator Mullen is imbalanced or anything. It is important to have balance in what is being spoken about. The problem is many of the people who criticise this unit are talking rubbish, to be honest. I am not saying the Senator is, but some of them are.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I did not criticise the unit.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Yes.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen The spending is my beef.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Finally, I join Senator Feighan in calling on the British MP to withdraw his remarks regarding the Taoiseach. He is doing what every other Taoiseach has done, or should do, and that is to protect the Irish citizen and Ireland. Brexit will have a profound impact on us as a country. The Taoiseach and the Government have a duty to protect and advocate on behalf of Ireland. That is being done in the context of the European Union. If we look at the remarks of the negotiators, and the chairmen of the European Commission, it will be seen that it is about having a Europe that represents all of us - small countries as well as big countries. I would be very happy to have a continuing debate on Brexit but it is important though that there is balance in that debate. It is not about Ireland being protectionist. It is about Ireland looking after our own interests and protecting ourselves in the context of being good Europeans.

  Order of Business agreed to.

Data Protection Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)

SECTION 32

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 9b:

In page 23, to delete lines 28 to 33 and substitute the following:
"must be necessary and proportionate, shall include limitations on the access to the personal data undergoing processing within a workplace in order to prevent unauthorised consultation, alteration, disclosure or erasure of personal data, and may include
— (a) explicit consent of the data subject for the processing of his or her personal data for one or more purposes,".

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan If amendment No. 9b is agreed to, amendments Nos. 10 and 11 cannot be moved.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins We have not discussed the fourth group of amendments at all. We adjourned after the vote on the previous section.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan According to the Official Report, section 31 was agreed to.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins It was.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We are just starting to discuss section 32.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I was worried that the Cathaoirleach was moving to the votes.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator's amendment is the first for consideration. I was just making the point that if amendment No. 9b is agreed to, amendments Nos. 10 and 11 cannot be moved. Amendments Nos. 9b to 14a, inclusive, and 18 are related. Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 are physical alternatives to amendment No. 9b. The amendments may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Am I right in thinking amendment No. 18 to section 42 is also included in the group?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments 9b to 14a, inclusive, and 18 are related.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I could not see the relationship, but I am happy to speak to them as determined.

  Section 32 was one on which I thought that if we were able to engage constructively, we might be able to address a number of concerns. It relates "suitable and specific measures" for processing. This term is invoked 16 subsequent times in the Bill. It was conceived originally to be used in respect of special categories of personal data. In the general data protection regulation it is indicated that the processing of special categories of personal data may be necessary for reasons to do with the public interest in the areas of public health without the consent of the data subject and that such processing should be subject to suitable and specific measures so as to protect the rights and freedoms of natural persons. The term "suitable and specific measures" appears throughout the Bill where the measure will replace consent, although it might not be mentioned in the sections, particularly a number of sections in the 40s. These are cases in which the obtaining of individuals' consent will no longer be a requirement for data to be processed. Where legislative permission has been given for the processing of personal data that bypasses the requirement for consent, suitable and specific measures are to be brought forward as a further safeguard, given that the key and primary safeguard of a requirement to obtain consent has been removed.

  The Minister might note that I have tabled a number of amendments on this issue, but I will not push all of them. This section is not very clear and is quite wide. I was concerned that what was clear in it was that elements such as explicit consent; measures to prevent unauthorised use, the disclosure or erasure of data; time limits for the erasure of data; and training for those dealing with data were entirely optional and at the discretion of the Minister. The section states specific measures may be taken and regulations made under the Bill which "may" include these areas. I had hoped we could deal with concerns about the many sections later in the Bill, but I hoped that we could first replace the word "may" with "shall" so as to ensure the toolbox of protections for individuals and their data would always be used in its fullest sense. However, looking at places where the phrase "suitable and specific measures for processing" is used, it seems that it is utilised in a wide set of circumstances, which presents a problem. It is used in parts that are not clearly framed within the GDPR.  The GDPR is clear, for example, that suitable and specific measures might be appropriate for archives, public health and certain other areas. However, the GDPR does not want suitable and specific measures to be used as a mechanism to bypass consent when it comes to how personal data is used in, for example, elections or political opinion, which is dealt with later and we will discuss that later. The problem is that the phrase "suitable and specific measures" is widely used. I may proceed with my amendment that seeks to change the word "may" to "shall" but I recognise that there are situations, such as instances where criminal proceedings are under way or archival work, where consent may not be appropriate or even possible.

I am still extremely concerned about this section and I wish to advise that I shall return to it on Report Stage. In the interim, I am intent on proposing a measure today as a basic safeguard, which I hope the Minister will accept because it will indicate the grounds for us to work on the improvement of this section. I wish to refer to section 32(b) that reads: "limitations on access to the personal data undergoing processing," which refers to instances where consent has been removed and bypassed. In cases where permission has been given for the processing of specific personal data, I want to ensure that there are limitations placed on the access to that data in order to "prevent unauthorised consultation, alteration, disclosure or erasure" of personal data.

Minister, I cannot foresee any situation in which any Minister, making regulations on the processing of personal data, would not wish to ensure and, indeed, needs to ensure that there are limitations on how that data is accessed in order to prevent unauthorised use, consultation or other actions.

My amendment No. 9b reads:

In page 23, to delete lines 28 to 33 and substitute the following:
“must be necessary and proportionate, shall include limitations on the access to the personal data undergoing processing within a workplace in order to prevent unauthorised consultation, alteration, disclosure or erasure of personal data, and may include—
a) explicit consent of the data subject for the processing of his or her personal data for one or more purposes,”.

I emphasise the words "shall include limitations on the access to the personal data". At the start of my amendment No. 9b I introduced the words "necessary and proportionate" because that element is used as a standard test throughout the GDPR and, therefore, should be reflected in this legislation. My amendment also stipulates "may include" when it comes to the other elements of the toolkit. I wish to advise that more work may need to be done on this aspect on Report Stage. As amendment No. 9b may need further work I shall refrain from pressing my amendments Nos. 10 and 11 now.

  My amendment No. 11a is another key amendment. It provides that a Minister may make regulations on what safeguards may be put in place in terms of how personal data is processed. It reads "the Minister has consulted with such other Minister of the Government as he or she considers appropriate and has also consulted with and sought the advice of the Commission". I included that provision because we have seen, and we have very visible examples at the moment, whereby Ministers may well consult with the current Data Protection Commissioner or the new data protection commission. However, consulting the data protection commission does not give us any assurance that the Ministers will take on board the advice that they receive from the Data Protection Commissioner or the data protection commission. I shall outline a worrying example that is in play at present. The Data Protection Commissioner has indicated her extremely serious concern about the manner in which the public services card has been rolled out. These are serious concerns not only about the legislative basis but about the facilities to ensure appropriate access. A number of concerns have been expressed but I will not fully elucidate them here. Despite such concerns the roll-out of the public services card has been accelerated, not only by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection but also the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Recently these issues were discussed by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, of which I am a member. On that occasion we specifically discussed the card with the Department official from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform who directly advised us to talk to the Minister for Justice and Equality about the Data Protection Bill as the legislation is the best way to address the matter.  I am now trying to follow up on that advice and address the concern that a Minister may disregard the advice given by the data commission and proceed with suitable and specific regulations which the data commissioner may consider inadequate. Given that the data commissioner constitutionally cannot trump the Minister, which I recognise, I have put forward an additional safeguard whereby the Minister, having sought the advice of the commission and consulted with any other Ministers he or she considers appropriate, should, if he or she intends to set out regulations which are not compliant with the advice of the commission, produce a written rationale for the decision not to take the advice of the commission, and seek and receive Cabinet approval for the proposed regulations. This is a very mild additional safeguard that will ensure that if the very serious decision to disregard the advice of the data commission is taken, we will have the rationale for it and it will at a minimum be discussed at Cabinet. Having spoken to other Oireachtas Members since submitting this amendment, I know that others may seek to strengthen it further. Other Members may wish to ensure that where the advice is not taken, that would be discussed by the Oireachtas committee or the Houses of the Oireachtas and a rationale laid before them. My amendment is comparatively mild and simply calls for collective Cabinet responsibility of in terms of addressing this issue.

  Amendments Nos. 12 to 14, inclusive, regard the deletion of "may" and substitution of "shall" in various parts of the section. The problems involved in the earlier discussed deletion of "may" and substitution of "shall" do not apply in these instances.

  Amendment No. 14a amends section 32(5) by inserting that whatever regulations for suitable and specific measures are made under subsection (2) as discussed should have regard to "the necessity and proportionality of the processing" in addition to the current provision for "the nature, scope, context and purposes of the processing". This addresses the necessity and proportionality test that used to be applied throughout. It is important that it should be directly considered in this section. I particularly hope the Minister might be able to accept this amendment because it is quite mild and very much in tune with the aims of the general data protection regulation, GDPR.

  As regards amendment No. 18, we will have a more lengthy debate on section 42 when we reach it so I will not speak at length on this amendment. It concerns the example I gave of an area where suitable and specific measures have been added in and it is very important under such circumstance in regard to electoral activities that there be no bypassing of the issue of consent. The GDPR addresses appropriate safeguards for the use of data by political parties but there are numerous problems with that section so perhaps it is not appropriate to dive into it in too much detail now. I note that under the wide frame that is currently put on it, the consent of a person whose political opinions are being discussed would and should be a requirement.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am willing to have a fresh look at section 32 and to bring forward amendments on Report Stage if the Senator is minded not to press the amendments to section 32 on this Stage. I remind the House that the purpose of section 32, which is entitled "Suitable and specific measures for processing", is to establish a toolbox of specific and appropriate measures to be applied in the context of data processing under later sections of the Bill, namely, sections 40 to 44, inclusive, and 46, some of which have been mentioned by Senator Higgins. She is correct that we will have an opportunity to go through those section by section.  All of the relevant sections make the use of suitable and specific measures mandatory. The choice of which measure from the toolbox could, should or may be used will depend on the circumstances of the processing.

  I stress that these safeguards are in addition to, rather than a substitute for, the technical and organisational measures required under the risk based approach in Article 24 of the general data protection regulation. These additional measures are brought forward by virtue of the fact that they will apply to the special categories of personal data, which are referred to under Article 9 of the GDPR. In some cases, encryption of the personal data concerned might be highly desirable, while in other cases, the appointment of a data protection officer by the controller might be more effective. In this context, it is important that we consider the text of 32(4), which will permit the specification of compulsory safeguards in respect of certain types of data processing.

  Having listened carefully to the Senator and examined her amendments, I accept there is a need to clarify what can best be described as the interplay between this section and the later sections which require the use of the toolbox measures. I am willing to review matters in light of the Senator's comments. Rather than dealing with the matter conclusively today, I ask her to consider withdrawing the amendment and not moving her other amendments to the section, in return for which I will give a commitment to introduce appropriate amendments to the section on Report Stage.

  Amendments Nos. 11 and 18 in the Senator's name deal with consent-related issues. I understand they are part of the group because, as the Cathaoirleach stated, amendment No. 11 is an alternative to amendment No. 9b to which I have made reference. With regard to amendment No. 11, there is no need to insert the word "informed" after the word "explicit" because this is already an essential requirement for what could be described as a valid consent under the GDPR. The definition of "consent" in Article 4 makes clear that the matter of consent must always be freely given, specific and informed. Section 2(3) makes clear that a word or expression used in the Act that is also used in the GDPR has the same meaning in this legislation as it has in the GDPR unless the context otherwise requires. Amendment No. 11 cuts across this and I am not minded to accept it.

  Amendment No. 18 proposes to insert a consent requirement in section 42, which seeks to give effect to Recital 56 of the general data protection regulation. I am open to considering the possibility of imposing a consent requirement. In any event, we will have an opportunity to discuss the issue again when we deal with amendments Nos. 19 to 21, inclusive.

  Having listened carefully to the Senator's submissions and the reasoning behind her amendments, I give a commitment to return to the issue on Report Stage.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I warmly welcome the Minister's commitment and acknowledge the interest his officials have shown in engaging in this area. The Minister will understand that I am seeking to be constructive with regard to the amendments. While I will not press most of the amendments to a vote, I may press one or two of them because this will put us on stronger ground in terms of collectively working together as we move forward. I will be pleased to work with the Minister and support on Report Stage any amendments he tables that perform more effectively the function of some of my amendments.  Nonetheless, given that Report Stage will by necessity have a constrained opportunity for back and forth debate I may move one or two of the amendments today. I am not going to do this very often but there are just one or two points which I would like to make as they will give us a better starting point in terms of our work together on Report Stage.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is Senator Higgins going to withdraw amendment No. 9b?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins No, I will press it. I am not going to press most of the amendments but I will press amendment No. 9b.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I acknowledge what Senator Higgins has said about our constructive relationship but I would not see today as being a starting point. I thought we already started to embark on what I felt was a very constructive relationship in the context of our debate.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I acknowledge that.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I would not like the record to remain unaltered in that our positive and constructive relationship started some time ago.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins To clarify, I was in fact acknowledging that there has been constructive engagement, both with the Minister and his officials, and I think it was really useful at the last Stage. I am very happy to continue what has been a constructive discussion. In acknowledgement of that, there are a number of amendments which I might not press today. I accept I have about 40 amendments, but there are one or two that I think are a really useful basis for us to have in terms of moving forward. I thank the Minister very much for his appropriate correction to the record.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Despite what the Minister has said-----

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Nonetheless, for now I would like to press amendment No. 9b.

  Amendment put.

  The Committee divided by electronic means.

Senator Gabrielle McFadden: Information on Gabrielle McFadden Zoom on Gabrielle McFadden Under Standing Order 62(3)(b), I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan As the Senator is a teller, she is entitled to do so.

Amendment again put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 16; Níl, 17.

Níl
Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Clifford-Lee, Lorraine. Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Maria Byrne   Zoom on Maria Byrne   Byrne, Maria.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Paudie Coffey   Zoom on Paudie Coffey   Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Mark Daly   Zoom on Mark Daly   Daly, Mark. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Paul Daly   Zoom on Paul Daly   Daly, Paul. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Máire Devine   Zoom on Máire Devine   Devine, Máire. Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
Information on Alice-Mary Higgins   Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins   Higgins, Alice-Mary. Information on Gabrielle McFadden   Zoom on Gabrielle McFadden   McFadden, Gabrielle.
Information on Colette Kelleher   Zoom on Colette Kelleher   Kelleher, Colette. Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.
Information on Terry Leyden   Zoom on Terry Leyden   Leyden, Terry. Information on Catherine Noone   Zoom on Catherine Noone   Noone, Catherine.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Ó Donnghaile, Niall. Information on Denis O'Donovan   Zoom on Denis O'Donovan   O'Donovan, Denis.
Information on Keith Swanick   Zoom on Keith Swanick   Swanick, Keith. Information on Joe O'Reilly   Zoom on Joe O'Reilly   O'Reilly, Joe.
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan. Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.
  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Colette Kelleher; Níl, Senators Maria Byrne and Gabrielle McFadden.

Amendment declared lost.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan There was an equality of votes. Therefore, pursuant to Article 15.11.2° of the Constitution, I exercised my casting vote. In accordance with precedent, I vote against the question in this case, the result of the vote now being: Tá, 16; Níl, 17.

  Amendment declared lost.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I ask the Members to resume their seats.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 10:

In page 23, line 28, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".

I will withdraw my amendment and reserve the right to resubmit it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 11:

In page 23, line 29, after “explicit” to insert “informed”.

I will withdraw my amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 11a:

In page 24, to delete lines 18 to 22 and substitute the following:
"(a) the Minister, provided that—
(i) the Minister has consulted with such other Minister of the Government as he or she considers appropriate and has also consulted with and sought the advice of the Commission, and

(ii) the Minister has, if he or she intends to set out regulations which are not compliant with the advice of the Commission, produced a written rationale for his or her decision and received Cabinet approval for the proposed regulations,
(b) any other Minister, provided that—
(i) that Minister has consulted with such other Minister of the Government as he or she considers appropriate and has also consulted with and sought the advice of the Commission, and

(ii) that Minister has, if he or she intends to set out regulations which are not compliant with the advice of the Commission, produced a written rationale for his or her decision and received Cabinet approval for the proposed regulations.".

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Yes.

  Amendment put.

  The Committee divided by electronic means.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Under Standing Order 62(3)(b), I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan As the Senator is a teller, she is entitled to do so.

Amendment again put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 16; Níl, 17.

Níl
Information on Catherine Ardagh   Zoom on Catherine Ardagh   Ardagh, Catherine. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Clifford-Lee, Lorraine. Information on Maria Byrne   Zoom on Maria Byrne   Byrne, Maria.
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  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Frances Black and Alice-Mary Higgins; Níl, Senators Maria Byrne and Gabrielle McFadden.

Amendment declared lost.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan There was an equality of votes. Therefore, pursuant to Article 15.11.2° of the Constitution, I exercised my casting vote. In this case, I voted against the amendment.

  Amendment declared lost.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 12:

In page 24, line 24, to delete “may” and substitute “shall”.

I will withdraw the amendment and reserve the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 13:

In page 24, line 30, to delete “may” and substitute “shall”.

I will withdraw the amendment and reserve the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 14:

In page 24, line 33, to delete “may” and substitute “shall”.

I will withdraw the amendment and reserve the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 14a:

In page 24, after line 39, to insert the following:
“(b) the necessity and proportionality of the processing,”.

I will withdraw this amendment and I would have the hope that this particular amendment is one that the Minister himself may reintroduce on Report Stage. If not, I will.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 32 agreed to.

  Section 33 agreed to.

SECTION 34

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments Nos. 15 and 15a are related, with amendment No. 15a being a physical alternative to amendment No. 15. The amendments may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed. It is to be noted that, if the question on amendment No. 15 is agreed, amendment No. 15a cannot be moved.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 15:

In page 25 to delete lines 29 to 35.

I will not prolong the agony for Members. We are opposed to this section in its entirety, and the amendment is a deletion in that regard. I will press this to a vote. The amendment is self-explanatory, so I do not need to go into great detail.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Section 34 is one of the most deeply problematic sections in the Bill and needs intensive revision. The main concern is that, while provisions are made in respect of specific and, in some cases, appropriate circumstances that we have already discussed with the Minister whereby personal data might be processed, section 34 is wide in terms of what is construed and potentially construable as the public interest. It allows for the processing of personal data by any local authority where considered necessary and includes an extensive list of bodies, for example, museums, agencies, broadcasters, financial bodies like NAMA, tourism boards and housing agencies. It also makes further provision for the disclosure of personal data for the purpose of preserving the common travel area by air carriers and leaves to the discretion of the Minister, without accountability to the Cabinet, Dáil or the Oireachtas, the determination of what data are necessary to be processed and under which conditions. This is an extraordinarily wide remit and the section needs substantial revision. I hope that there will be scope for us to work across the Houses on that revision.

  I support Sinn Féin's amendment, as the list of bodies established by enactment is long. We need to be more specific. My amendment is a small one and I hope that the Minister will take it on board. The section reads: "The processing of personal data shall be lawful to the extent that such processing is necessary for". As has been well aired, necessary and proportionate is the test under GDPR. My amendment reinserts "and proportionate" in that context. Notwithstanding the wider discussion that we might need to have on the section, the inclusion of the necessary and proportionate test is appropriate.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The short answer to Senator Higgins is that I will not accept her amendment, minor and all as she suggests it is. Actually, she used the word "small", which is somewhat different. I would be pleased to give it further consideration and see how we can meet each other on Report Stage, but I will not accept it as currently drafted.

  Amendment No. 15 proposes the deletion of section 34(1). I will give vent to a number of reasons as to why I will not accept it. Article 6.3 of the GDPR provides that the basis for the processing referred to in Article 6.1(c) and (e) shall be laid down in EU law or national law and that the purposes of the processing shall be laid down in that legal basis. Unlike the position in some member states, however, Acts of the Oireachtas that confer statutory functions on public authorities and bodies do not normally provide specifically for the processing of personal data for the purpose of discharging statutory functions. The same applies to functions deriving from our Constitution. The processing of personal data for those purposes is implicit rather than explicit.

  This is an issue of legal certainty, and to ensure that, section 34(1)(a) provides that the processing of personal data shall be lawful to the extent that such processing is necessary for the performance of a function conferred by an enactment or the Constitution. This is fully in line with Article 6.1(c) of the GDPR which provides that data processing is lawful if it is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject. What is important here is that, first, a statutory function must have been conferred on the controller by law and, second, the processing shall be lawful to the extent that the processing is necessary for the performance of that function.

  Section 34(1)(b), which the amendment also seeks to delete, provides a statutory basis for data processing that necessarily arises where non-statutory schemes, programmes, funds or arrangements are administered by public authorities, such as a Department, in the performance of a function conferred on them by an enactment or the Constitution. Let me give an example. In terms of social welfare, some important and valuable schemes are administered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection but operate on a non-statutory basis. I am referring to, for example, the free fuel scheme, the free travel scheme, the back to school clothing and footwear allowance and the school meals programme. Such non-statutory schemes have also been put in place in the past to deal urgently with emergency situations such as our current adverse weather conditions, the aftermath of a storm, flooding, landslides, farm crop destruction and fodder shortages, of which Senator Coffey and others will be aware. Passing specific legislation to deal with such cases is not something that we do because we do not deem it necessary.  There is also the question of timing and of the need for the Oireachtas to respond urgently to supply aid or assistance to communities. All these schemes will require the processing of personal data of applicants and beneficiaries. This is widely permitted under the terms of the general data protection regulation, GDPR. Recital (41) states: "Where this Regulation refers to a legal basis or a legislative measure, this does not necessarily require a legislative act adopted by a parliament." I invite Members to agree with me that there are circumstances where these non-statutory schemes, or other similar non-statutory measures, are important and beneficial to communities. We should not put them at risk by creating conditions of legal uncertainty following the coming into force of GDPR later in the year. In these circumstances I suggest that amendment No. 15 be withdrawn because of the uncertainty that will ensue.

  I am concerned that acceptance of amendment No. 15a may also jeopardise operation of certain statutory and non-statutory schemes and measures. I wish to impress on Senators the fact of Article 61C GDPR being based on a necessity test. It does not incorporate a proportionality test but inserting a reference to proportionality here could well have an adverse impact on some of the schemes whose administration we from time to time facilitate. It could leave them open to challenge and to an interpretation of uncertainty. I will give further consideration to amendment No. 15a but I will not accept it today. I do have a difficulty with amendment No. 15 and ask Senator Ó Donnghaile to reflect on my point. If he were to withdraw it he could reserve the right to come back on Report Stage.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I never question the bona fides of the Minister. This amendment seeks to ensure that further protection is put in place because it is our view, with the greatest respect to the Minister, that this grants him too much discretion and power. I will reflect on what he said and will withdraw the amendment, with a view to bringing it back on Report Stage.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins We can continue to work on amendment 15a. I appreciate that the Minister is interested in considering it. I do not think anybody in this House would disagree about the circumstances the Minister has outlined where it would be appropriate. The concern is that as it stands subsection (1)(a) does not cover only urgent situations. It covers any situation or law that is brought in. I am more concerned about it now because the Minister said it may not require legislation brought through the House but may be another legislative measure. Would that be a ministerial order? We are using the word lawful but the GDPR is law. We are introducing a new hierarchy whereby the GDPR would be subservient to any other law that might be brought in in respect of data processing. The reference to "any other future or current" raises serious concern about how wide this is. I appreciate that, as the Minister said, there are circumstances where urgency is needed and my amendment sought to deal with that by ensuring it is proportional. For example, where the Minister described a need to respond in urgent situations such as flooding and crop shortages, any test of proportionality would find that the processing of data was appropriate.

  The proportionality test is not designed to tie the hands of Government. As I understand it, section 34 is wider than some of the sections we have debated because it does not even require ministerial responsibility. Subsection (1) refers to "the performance of a function of a controller conferred by or under an enactment or by the Constitution". That is very wide. We will not necessarily know what decisions may be made in interpreting the performance of their functions. Certain functions of controllers predate the legislation before us today. We should endeavour to ensure that the functions of any controller or anybody charged with data protection are brought into line with these new higher standards we put forward rather than saying that these standards may not apply where an existing way of functioning existed. It does need revision. We are happy to work with the Minister on the proportionality question. I will not press the amendment now because there is much ground to cover today. If there are exceptional circumstances let us legislate for those and not for the blanket provision.

  I may return to this point on Report Stage, even the very limited safeguard of "suitable and specific measures" which I had concerns about in a previous section is not included here. I do not see where the safeguards are in the absence of a proportionality test. Nonetheless, I am happy not to press the amendment now and to work with the Minister and his Department.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 15a not moved.

  Question, "That section 34 stand part of the Bill," put and declared carried.

  Sections 35 to 37, inclusive, agreed to.

NEW SECTIONS

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 16:

In page 28, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:
38. (1) No application to access data processed for journalistic purposes may be made by any party, including, for the avoidance of doubt, an authorised officer, An Garda Síochána, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commissioner, the Revenue Commissioners or the Defence Forces, except by way of application to the High Court by motion and affidavit and on notice to the journalist data processor.

(2) In determining whether to allow access to data processed for journalistic purposes, the High Court shall have regard to the importance of freedom of expression in a democratic society and to the importance of confidential sources of information to the right of freedom expression.

(3) The High Court may permit access to data processed for journalistic purposes, including for the purpose of identifying confidential sources of information, only where the journalist processor whose data is sought is the subject of investigation for suspected commission of a serious criminal offence or for unlawful activity which poses a serious threat to the security of the State.
(4) (a) In exceptional cases, where the security of the State is under immediate threat or where it is suspected that a serious criminal offence is likely to be committed in the immediate future, an application may be made ex parte to the High Court for access to data processed for journalistic purposes.

(b) Where an ex parte application under this section is made, the journalist processor whose data is the subject of the application shall be notified of the application by, and given the opportunity to make representations before, the High Court as soon as practicable.
(5) An appeal shall, by leave of the High Court, lie from a determination of that Court under this section on a question of law to the Court of Appeal.”.

This is a sincere attempt to strengthen the Bill by affording further protections to journalists and their sources. I will not go into it in great detail because the amendment speaks for itself and lays out clearly what we hope to achieve, the protection of the integrity of important journalistic work and the service it provides to citizens and the State by holding government and other agencies to account. It does not seek to hinder or block journalists from obtaining necessary data. It merely puts in place considered, measured, thoughtful, proper filters, protections and guidelines to protect the integrity of the journalism and its ethos, showing that we respect that institution and the important and critical role that journalists play.  We have seen that role played out in recent times and the significant contribution journalists can make to the democratic process and ensuring the State is held to account. The amendment seeks to insert a number of protections; it does not seek to cause any unnecessary or undue barrier to obtaining the necessary data where they are legally required through High Court applications and to the filter process that seeks to protect journalistic integrity and, indeed, the integrity of their sources moving forward. I will press the amendment. I hope the Minister will acknowledge why we view this to be of such critical importance at this stage.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee My amendment relates to journalistic sources and the need to strengthen them but I will not press it. I will withdraw it and reserve the right to reintroduce it on a later Stage.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I support the amendments, which are constructive. I am happy to support these proposals but I urge the Minister to consider working with all parties on them as they would like to move to a resolution to ensure the integrity of the Fourth Estate is maintained.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I have listened carefully to what Members said on these issues and I agree that we should give the matter due and full as well as careful consideration, but I am concerned that these issues of considerable importance will be decided in the legislation. Aspects of the amendments are far-reaching. The importance of the text is influenced by a recent recommendation of Joint Committee on Justice and Equality arising from pre-legislative scrutiny of the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2017. The joint committee's report has only been tabled recently, and the Government, including, importantly, the Office of the Attorney General, has not had the opportunity to examine the recommendation in the detail that is required. That is why I agree with Senator Higgins that these issues can be examined at a later stage. They are far-reaching, detailed and important. Second, I reiterate that the legislation is not the correct vehicle for such a wide-ranging and far-reaching statutory provision. The Long Title confines the content of the legislation to data protection matters. The Senators have gone beyond those in the amendments.

  The provision in section 38(3) whereby the High Court could permit identification of confidential sources of information where a journalist "is the subject of investigation for suspected commission of a serious criminal offence" raises important issues that go well beyond data protection matters, and the GDPR and this legislation, which is a direct consequence of the GDPR. For example, what is a "serious offence"? I do not wish in any way to take from the importance of the amendments but balancing the right of journalists to protect their sources with other rights is a matter for the courts. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has underlined, for example, that protection of confidential sources is an essential means of enabling the press to perform its important function on a daily basis and it should not be restricted or inhibited. The important role of the press as public watchdog should not be interfered with except in exceptional circumstances where a vital public or individual interest may be at stake. I do not want in any way to detract from the importance of the amendments. I suspect that there is a relationship between the tabling of the amendment and the joint committee's report, which deserves due and careful consideration. It would not be appropriate to insert such a far-reaching, consequential amendment in this legislation. I am not minded to accept it for the two reasons I outlined. The first is the recent origin of the amendment but I will certainly examine that issue. I have a difficulty with the wider issue, which I hope Senators will accept in the spirit in which I tender it.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I am reluctant to divide the House on this issue because of the Minister's comments. I disagree with elements of them but that is the nature of our discussion. I will withdraw my amendment and reserve the right to table it again on Report Stage. Both I and my colleague in the other House, Deputy Ó Laoghaire, are keen to engage with officials and the Minister to tease out how we can insert some of the core and necessary elements of the amendment in the legislation ultimately. I am keen to engage with him on that basis. Given the sensitivity and importance of what the amendment seeks to do, I do not want to divide the House. In withdrawing the amendment, I wish to make to clear that I reserve the right to table it again. If there is not a satisfactory conclusion from the engagement with the Minister and his officials, I reserve the right to resubmit it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I move amendment No. 17:

In page 28, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

"38. (1) No application to access personal data processed for journalistic purposes may be made by any party, including, for the avoidance of doubt, an authorised officer, An Garda Síochána, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commissioner, the Revenue Commissioners or the Defence Forces, except by way of application to the High Court on notice to the data processor.

(2) In determining whether to allow access to personal data processed for journalistic purposes, the High Court shall have regard to the right of freedom expression and information.

(3) The High Court may permit access to personal data processed for journalistic purposes, including for the purpose of identifying confidential sources of information, only where the data processor in question is under investigation for suspected commission of a serious criminal offence or for unlawful activity which poses a serious threat to the security of the State.
(4) (a) In exceptional cases, where the security of the State is under immediate threat or where it is suspected that a serious criminal offence is likely to be committed in the immediate future, an application may be made ex parte to the High Court for access to data processed for journalistic purposes.

(b) Where an order is made under subsection (4)(a), the data processor shall be notified of the making of the order and afforded the opportunity of making representations to the High Court as soon as practicable thereafter.".

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Sections 38 to 41, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 42

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 18:

In page 29, line 10, after "lawful" to insert "where consent is freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous by data subjects and".

I will withdraw the amendment and reserve the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage on the basis that the Minister indicated he was interested in revisiting the issue of consent in this section.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments Nos. 19 to 21, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 19:

In page 29, to delete lines 13 to 15.

I will withdraw amendment No. 19 while reserving the right to resubmit it on Report Stage. Sinn Féin will support amendment No. 21 in the name of Senator Higgins.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I will speak to my amendments Nos. 20 and 21. I do not propose to press amendment No. 20 as I do not wish to create an artificial disadvantage for new candidates compared with existing representatives. I recognise the concern that has arisen on this matter, on which I have engaged with the Department. Nonetheless, there remains a concern that the section, as constituted, goes significantly beyond what is envisaged in the general data protection regulation regarding the use of data collected for electoral purposes. The relevant section of the GDPR refers to data that are designed for use by political parties. This is very much the way in which its use is constrained.

  I recognise that we have many independent candidates and representatives, including me. The electoral purposes envisaged in the GDPR appear to be those that are internal to persons who are putting themselves forward for election to public office. However, the provision in this section is constructed with a much wider scope. We discussed the fact that a body established by or under an enactment is extremely wide in scope. It could allow, for example, political opinions to be processed for electoral purposes or to influence such matters as manifestoes. It potentially blurs the line between the role of various bodies established under enactment and the role of political parties, government and Departments. The section is unclear and I expect it was designed to encompass, for example, a referendum commission and similar bodies. However, it is framed much too widely and could potentially lead to inappropriate use.

  Amendment No. 21 is a much more important proposal providing that the section will "not permit the sharing or processing of personal data revealing political opinion with or by any private or commercial company, even when that private or commercial company has been contracted by the actors or entities specified under paragraphs (a), (b) or (c)." We have seen the role played by companies such as Cambridge Analytica in the Brexit vote and Trump campaign. There is a real and present danger of private companies being contracted to influence and shape electoral outcomes.

  The Standards in Public Office Commission has indicated it is not satisfied with the adequacy of regulation in respect of how social media advertising and promotion are being and could be used to influence electoral outcomes. If we include in the Bill a provision that results in a politician, party or aspiring candidate being able to share with a private company information about citizens' political opinions, which may have been entrusted to the candidate in confidence, for example, in the course of constituency work, democracy will find itself on dangerous and shaky ground. This is a serious concern.

  I do not want to focus on one company. With regard to the forthcoming referendum, for example, analytics companies have been hired which have very close relationships with companies that were highly active on the vote on Brexit and various elections. This is a real and present danger and one which is not exclusive to extreme cases. A well-resourced political party should not be in a position to share extensive information on the political opinions of citizens with an expensive company. While I do not wish to digress, we have seen in recent weeks how strongly members of the public feel about the importance of integrity in communicating messages and advertisements and promoting positions. Absolute transparency is needed on how such communications are conducted.

  While I acknowledge that this section does not explicitly provide for a right to share personal data related to political opinions with private companies, it does not preclude the sharing of such data. I hope the Minister will be able to work with me to ensure the legislation preclude the sharing of such data.

  It may be more effective to divide section 42 into two sections. Anyone who has sought or seeks political office will know the publicly available register of electors may be used to ensure his or her message is communicated. It may be effective to deal with issues such as the register of electors in a specific section. Other areas of political opinion, which extend beyond information that a person has or has not voted or is registered, could be teased out in another section. This may a constructive approach to addressing this issue. I do not expect people to stand in the Minister's way on the use of the register of electors. We could have a separate section on that issue and another section dealing with other uses of data related to a person's political opinion. It is not clear whether the provisions of section 42, as currently worded, include data on persons who may have contacted political representatives by email or other means expressing a political view on an issue of the day. Perhaps the Minister will assure me that such data are not covered by the section.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I concur with Senator Higgins. The Minister is speaking to colleagues on the issue of political representation. Members of the public want to be updated on the work being done by political representatives. My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that a new set of guidelines will be introduced to deal with this issue. Similarly, if a member of the public contacts a Member of the Oireachtas with a specific query, Members will find it difficult to engage with various Departments on the issue. The Minister is aware of this as an issue because he has been a politician for a long time, probably longer than I have been around. He knows exactly what is required of us in the Irish political system, which is different from most other political systems.  The only similar system is in Malta, which has a proportional representation single transferable vote system akin to that used to elect the Irish Parliament.

  Irish people have a certain expectation of Members. When there was no Citizens Information Board, people such as the Minister, his father and others provided citizens with information and assistance and helped them in an advocacy role. It is very important for that to continue because although, thankfully, many people now know their rights and are able to advocate for themselves, there are still many people who are unable to access information or advocate for themselves and do not know how to go about simple tasks such as applying for a medical card. If constituency offices around the country are hampered in this very important advocacy role, the data protection legislation will have gone too far. When one contacts Departments, depending on who speaks to, one may be put through a list, including some looking for written consent. In one situation involving SUSI of which I am aware there had been a marital breakup and written consent had to be obtained from the student and both parents. Such requirements make the work of a public representative in terms of advocating on behalf of people very difficult. When this legislation comes to a finality, that issue must be cleared up.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Senator Conway made several important points. There are issues in the context of the Bill that require careful scrutiny along the lines he suggests.

  As regards amendment No. 21, I listened carefully to the consideration given by its proposer, Senator Higgins, and, on reading section 42(a), (b) and (c), I do not see where there is any legal basis for the sharing of personal data revealing political opinions. I do not, therefore, see the necessity for amendment No. 21. I do not disagree with the points raised by Senator Higgins but she is reading far too much into section 42. There is no legal basis for the issues that she wishes to amend and amendment No. 21 is not required.

  The purpose of section 42 is to give structure and substance to Recital 56 of the GDPR, which provides that "Where in the course of electoral activities, the operation of the democratic system in a Member State requires that political parties compile personal data on people's political opinions, the processing of such data may be permitted for reasons of public interest, provided that appropriate safeguards are established." It is a loosely worded recital. It is unusual that there is no corresponding substantive provision in the GDPR and the objective of section 42 is to limit potential misuse of recital 56 through making the processing for its purposes subject to suitable and specific measures, as referred to in section 32.

  Amendment No. 19 proposes the deletion of subsection (b). Although I accept that the provision is drafted in a broad manner, the intention is to underpin any processing of political opinion data by a referendum commission. I note the point raised by Senator Ó Donnaghaile in that regard but I think he said he was not going to press it. However, I am willing to redraft that subsection in the context of a Report Stage amendment, which will trigger corresponding changes in sections 52 and 53.

  Amendment No. 20 proposes the deletion of the words "a candidate for election to, or" in paragraph (c) of section 42. That would mean that although an elected representative could take advantage of the section, a candidate who might be competing and seeking election for the first time could not, which may be less than consistent. I do not believe that is the import of what Senator Higgins wishes to achieve, so I will not accept the amendment. We will return to this in terms of debating section 42 but I would be concerned at the introduction of unnecessary text.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I ask the Minister to clarify one point: is it his interpretation that under the section as it currently stands no personal data revealing political opinions could be shared with any private company for the purposes of processing?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Yes.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins It is.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I do not see where such a facility exists in any part of the legislation, particularly this paragraph.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I am happy to return to the section to discuss it further with the Minister. I still have some concerns but I appreciate his clarity on the interpretation.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

 

  Amendment No. 20 not moved.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 21:

In page 29, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:
“(2) This section does not permit the sharing or processing of personal data revealing political opinion with or by any private or commercial company, even when that private or commercial company has been contracted by the actors or entities specified under paragraphs (a), (b) or (c).”.

I reserve the right to reintroduce amendment No. 21. We need to tease it out somewhat and perhaps paragraph (b) of section 42 may be a more appropriate section under which to deal with it.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Question, "That section 42 stand part of the Bill," put and declared carried.

  Section 43 agreed to.

SECTION 44

  Question proposed: "That section 44 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Although I did not wish to delay the process at the time of the discussion of section 40, I note that section 44 potentially relates to it. Section 44 will be the subject of amendment on Report Stage. It involves the bundling of two purposes - insurance and pensions - which should be separated into two sections because different provisions may apply to each. Although it may be appropriate to process special categories of personal data in regard to pensions, the GDPR, in a continuation of the section I read earlier regarding the question of public interest in areas of public health without consent, states that suitable and specific measures could be inserted at that point. However, there is a clear interpretation of public health being, "all elements related to health, namely health status, including morbidity and disability" and so on, but the key point is that "Such processing of data concerning health for reasons of public interest should not result in personal data being processed for other purposes by third parties such as employers or insurance and banking companies." Section 44 contains provisions relating to the mortgaging of a property, health insurance and health-related interest. Although I recognise public interest in the area of health is not what is being evoked in the section, I nonetheless believe that the spirit of the GDPR is quite clear in its interpretation, in that it does not seem to consider that the processing of personal data without consent - because we are clear that, wherever suitable and specific measures apply, such processing is likely to be without consent - would be appropriate by entities such as insurance or banking companies. Concern is expressed within the GDPR in respect of such processing and I am concerned by such processing within the section. I will be putting forward amendments to the section on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 45

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 22:

In page 30, line 5, after “necessary” to insert “and proportionate”.

This is a simple change to insert "proportionate" after "necessary". It is straightforward. It relates to a belief or a worry that there is an overt degree of power and discretion granted to the Minister in this regard. I think we can just speak on amendment No. 22 at this point, or can I move to amendment No. 23?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We will deal with amendment No. 22 first because it is not related.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Sin mo chuid ar leasú Uimh. 22.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I accept that there is some justification for the proposal to insert a reference to proportionality here in section 45 and maybe even some other consequential sections. If Senators agree, I will revisit this on Report Stage, having regard to what Senator Ó Donnghaile has said. There are a number of other sections where the same issue of proportionality arises that I probably need to tidy up too. We will do that.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments No. 23 and 36 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 23:

In page 30, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:
“(4) (a) Such regulations shall be referred to the Data Protection Commissioner before their enactment, who shall conduct an impact assessment, undertaken by the Data Protection Commission.

(b) The impact assessment shall have the purpose of ascertaining whether the proposed processing of special categories is—
(i) necessary,

(ii) proportionate,

(iii) is in compliance with subsection (4) of this section, and

(iv) is in compliance with the GDPR.
(c) The impact assessment, shall be returned to the Minister within three months of the Ministers referral, and it shall make recommendations as to whether the proposed processing of special categories is in compliance with the criteria laid out in paragraph (b) and shall recommend any changes necessary to the regulation to ensure compliance, or may recommend that the Minister not proceed with the regulation.

(d) In the event that the Minister does not follow the recommendation of the Commission, the Government shall publish in Iris Oifigiúil a reasoned written explanation of the decision of the Government not to follow the recommendation of the Commission.

(e) In the event that the Minister does not follow the recommendation of the Commission, the Government shall cause to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas a statement containing a reasoned written explanation of the decision of the Government not to follow the recommendation of the Commission.”.

Amendment No. 23 would see the Data Protection Commissioner be granted the powers to assess the request to release personal data if it is in the public interest. This potentially pulls the subjectivity of what is deemed to be in the public interest on the part of the Government of the day. These amendments are trying to not necessarily curtail but to almost democratise ministerial discretion. I again alert colleagues about this and I will wait to hear what the Minister has to say but we have deep concerns about this section. We believe this amendment would add greatly to the Bill. I will listen to what the Minister has to say.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins There are a number of parts to this amendment. I support the spirit of it. I know there may be issues relating to the question of impact assessment and who the appropriate person to perform an impact assessment is, whether the data controller or the Data Protection Commissioner. The key to this and the spirit in which it was discussed earlier is something the Minister will have seen a strong feeling about across the House, and I hope he will be able to work with us all on it because it will come up in multiple sections. Throughout the Bill, it simply allows Ministers to act following consultation with the commission with no guarantee that the decisions made by the Minister will in any way reflect the advice of the commission or even have due regard to it. There is far too much ministerial discretion. We need to have other safeguards. I think that the safeguards proposed under subsection (e) of the amendment, "In the event that the Minister does not follow the recommendation of the Commission, the Government shall cause to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas a statement containing a reasoned written explanation of the decision of the Government not to follow the recommendation of the Commission", is stronger than what I had put forward relating to section 32 and is probably better. All parties, with the exception of the Government party, have expressed concern about the formulation throughout the Bill which allows Ministers to seek advice and then act as they wish without giving any explanation when they choose to stray, dissent or override the commission. Given the huge importance of the general data protection regulation, GDPR, as we have heard eloquently expressed by the Minister on Second Stage, surely we need to have some kind of safeguard. I urge the Minister to note that this issue is arising in multiple places from multiple sources and to look genuinely to how, every time we have a point of pure ministerial discretion, we at least ensure that there will be some kind of written rationale for the decisions being made.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Amendment No. 23 seeks to insert paragraphs into section 45 and amendment No. 36 seeks to insert the same paragraphs into section 54, which is why we are taking them together. The position here is that the imposition of a statutory duty on the Data Protection Commissioner to conduct an impact assessment on regulations to be made under section 45(2) is in conflict with article 36(4) of the GDPR. That provision states that a member state's data protection authority must be consulted on proposals for any legislative measures to be adopted by a national parliament or a regulatory measure based on such a legislative measure which relates to the processing of data. The GDPR imposes an obligation on controllers and on processors, in certain cases, to carry out data protection impact assessments. There is no such an obligation on the data protection authority itself. The imposition of such an obligation not only would have resource implications of some significance but would, in essence, be in conflict with the complete independence of the supervisory authority that is required under Article 52. It will be open to the Data Protection Commissioner to request a controller, whether a Department or any other public authority with a regulation-making power, to carry out such an assessment when it is consulted on the proposed legislative measures. The carrying out of data protection impact assessments will be an obligation on controllers and processors. That is clear under Article 35 of the GDPR. The tasks of the data protection authority specified in Article 57 do not really foresee such a role or obligation. I am not in a position to accept the amendments for those reasons.

Amendment put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 9; Níl, 18.

Níl
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Máire Devine   Zoom on Máire Devine   Devine, Máire. Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Maria Byrne   Zoom on Maria Byrne   Byrne, Maria.
Information on Alice-Mary Higgins   Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins   Higgins, Alice-Mary. Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
Information on Colette Kelleher   Zoom on Colette Kelleher   Kelleher, Colette. Information on Paudie Coffey   Zoom on Paudie Coffey   Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Ó Donnghaile, Niall. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan. Information on Mark Daly   Zoom on Mark Daly   Daly, Mark.
  Information on Paul Daly   Zoom on Paul Daly   Daly, Paul.
  Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
  Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
  Information on Gabrielle McFadden   Zoom on Gabrielle McFadden   McFadden, Gabrielle.
  Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.
  Information on Catherine Noone   Zoom on Catherine Noone   Noone, Catherine.
  Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.
  Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.
  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Gavan and Niall Ó Donnghaile; Níl, Senators Maria Byrne and Gabrielle McFadden.

Amendment declared lost.

Section 45 agreed to.

  Sections 46 to 48, inclusive, agreed to.

  SECTION 49

  Government amendment No. 24:

   In page 32, line 32, to delete “subject to subsection (6)” and substitute “subject to subsection (5)”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 25:

In page 33, line 12, to delete "commits an offence and is liable" and substitute "shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable".

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 26:

In page 33, line 16, to delete "5 years, or both" and substitute "5 years or both".

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 49, as amended, agreed to.

  Section 50 agreed to.

 SECTION 51

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 27:

In page 34, to delete lines 1 to 7 and substitute the following:
"(b) the effect of that decision is to grant a request of the data subject."

The GDPR is clear that persons should not be subjected to automated decision-making, and decisions that will have a significant impact on the lives of an individual or a data subject should not be made automatically. This relates again to Article 22.1, which states, "The data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her ". However, the Government exempts itself from that under the section, which states that those protections will not apply where "the decision is authorised or required by or under an enactment" and either "the effect of that decision is to grant a request of the data subject" or "in all other cases ... adequate steps have been taken by the controller to safeguard the legitimate interests of the data subject...". The concern is that the Government is giving itself permission to have an automated decision made in respect of an individual, which directly contravenes the spirit of Article 22. I recognise that there may be circumstances in which it might be expeditious when a large volume of requests are being put through that they are processed in a positive way. However, I am concerned that section 51(b)(i) provides that an automated decision could be made which would deny a request made by the data subject. Somebody may, for example, be subjected to an automatic refusal in respect of a social protection payment, with the decision not made with due consideration by an official but by an algorithm. It would be deeply contrary to the spirit of the GDPR, which specifically seeks to safeguard against the impact of automated decision-making.

  I acknowledge section 51(b)(ii) states, "in all other cases (where subparagraph (i) is not applicable), adequate steps have been taken by the controller to safeguard the legitimate interests of the data subject which steps shall include the making of arrangements to enable him or her to make representations to the controller in relation to the decision.". This means that the data subject can be automatically refused on the basis of his or her data being processed automatically by an algorithm or other programme but he or she can then make an appeal. In many cases, the gap between the refusal and the taking of the appeal could have negative consequences for an individual. This does not exclusively relate to social protection schemes but the Minister will excuse my mind going there because this concern has been raised in other jurisdictions and I am a member of the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection. If persons were automatically refused disability or child benefit or, for example, refused a driver's licence, the impact would be significant and immediate. Simply knowing that they can make representations and have a period to appeal is not adequate.

  The amendment provides that there can be an automatic decision where that decision grants a request when, for example, 1,000 people have been asked to apply and it would not have a detrimental effect but automatic decision-making should not have a detrimental effect on people. We should be true to the spirit of Article 22.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan My concern is the unintended consequences of the deletion of section 51(b)(ii), which is the import of the amendment. An example of a consequence that I am sure is unintended is it would facilitate wrongdoing and fraud. Section 51 gives further effect to Article 22 of the GDPR, which deals with automated processing of personal data, including profiling. Paragraphs 2(a) and (c) have direct effects. Section 51 ensures an appropriate level of safeguards by requiring that any automated processing must be authorised or required by or under an enactment and, furthermore, that the effect of any decision is to either grant a request of the data subject or that adequate steps have been taken to safeguard the interests of the data subject. The section makes clear that these steps must include an arrangement whereby the data subject has the opportunity to make representations in respect of an intended decision. This means, in the first place, that a data subject has to be informed of any proposal to make such a decision and, second, have the opportunity to bring concerns to the attention of the data controller. It is important that these safeguards are compliant with the requirements of Article 22. If I accepted the amendment, there would be unintended consequences that could give rise to difficulty in practice.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I am still concerned because the areas in which automatic decision-making will be used have not been listed. We do not know how many areas may adopt this. With regard to wrongdoing and fraud, I hope we have better safeguards than automatic decision-making and algorithmic methods. Wrongdoing and fraud will continue to be crimes and the processing of data in respect of them is provided for elsewhere in the legislation.

  The Minister indicated that a person would be informed of the intention to make a decision in respect of him or her by an automatic method. Is it the case that persons would be informed of the possibility of an automated decision being made prior to the decision being made? If persons were to request a non-automated decision and that the decision be made by an official, would they have that power?  Prior to any decision having been made, there would have been the opportunity for representations and engagement. I believe it is important that there would be advance notice of that decision being made.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Let me indicate that I foresee this issue arising again. Members of the Oireachtas know the difficulties that many citizens, particularly vulnerable citizens, in the State will have in navigating bureaucracy.

  I accept that the way I framed amendment No. 27 may not be acceptable to the Minister, but I put it to him that I believe he will see a re-emergence of this concern in respect of automated decision making. If the Minister cannot exclude all circumstances of automated decision making, automated decision making in respect of vulnerable persons or where there is an immediate and serious consequence may need to be dealt with differently.

  I will not press my amendment. I am willing to work on refining it. If the Minister spoke of unintended consequences, I think there are very severe unintended consequences to automated decision making becoming the norm. I believe all Departments will see hundreds and hundreds of cases where people are distressed and concerned about an automatic decision that was made on them. It will put undue pressure on all our systems and on the controller in any given Department. Perhaps we can find ways to resolve it.

  I will withdraw the amendment but I reserve the right to return to the issue.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 51 agreed to.

SECTION 52

  Government amendment No. 28:

In page 34, line 9, to delete “For the purposes of Article 21, the reference to “direct marketing” includes direct mailing” and substitute the following:

“For the purposes of the application of Article 21 in the State, the reference to “direct marketing” includes a reference to direct mailing”.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan This amendment does not require any great discussion.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Question proposed: "That section 52, as amended, be agreed to."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Section 52 touches on some of the issues we already discussed when dealing with section 42. I wish to indicate that I may table amendments to ensure we have clarity on what kinds of direct marketing and on the uses of the electoral register. I am not necessarily seeking to preclude such use but to make sure we have clarity on the issue.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 53

  Question proposed: "That section 53 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I wish to indicate that I may table amendments to section 53, related to the topics already discussed.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 54
 

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Amendments Nos. 29 to 34, inclusive, are related. Amendment No. 31 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 30. Amendment No. 33 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 32 and amendments Nos. 29 to 34, inclusive, may be discussed together by agreement.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 29:

In page 34, to delete lines 28 to 30, and substitute the following:
“12 to 22 are restricted to the extent specified in subsection (3).”.

I will speak to all the amendments together. Basically section 54 relates to the restriction of the exercise of the data subject rights. Data subject rights are the core reason we have the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR. The function of GDPR to a large extent is to ensure appropriate protection of data sets. These are the circumstances under which it might be restricted. Again we see the situation whereby the scope of the Government to restrict a data subject's rights are very widely interpreted in the section.

  Section 54 (2) states "Subsection (1) is without prejudice to any enactment or rule of law which, on the coming into operation of this section, restricts the rights and obligations referred to in that subsection." Section 54 (5) also gives wide-ranging powers to any Minister. We have the same concerns on the levels of ministerial discretion, which have and will be raised again and again throughout the section.

  Amendment No. 30 seeks to delete section 54 (3)(a) and (3)(a) (i) to (iv), inclusive, because I believe they are very wide. The term "data subject" refers to individuals not just citizens but any individuals resident in the State, effectively the people in Ireland and their data rights.

  This Bill is fundamentally about enshrining and supporting the data subject rights of people. Under section 54(3) all of their data rights may be restricted where it is viewed to be necessary to safeguard the courts, Cabinet confidentiality, to deal with prosecutions, for the administration of taxes, but also for the purposes of estimating the amount of the liability of a controller on foot of claim.

  Section 54(3)(b) states "the personal data relating to the data subject consist of an expression of opinion about the data subject by another person given in confidence or on the understanding that it would be treated as confidential to a person who has a legitimate interest in receiving the information, or." The scope of the section is wide. I understand some of the provisions, and some of them stand up, but I would like to see them teased out so that is the reason I have tabled amendments.

  The crucial amendment is amendment No. 32, in which I propose to delete lines 1 to 42, and in page 37, to delete lines 1 to 12.

  Section 54(7) sets out the objectives of general public interest. Earlier in the Bill, the question of public interest was discussed as a basis on which decisions may be made. Later in section 54(7) examples of public interest are set out. I have a real concern that the examples of public interest might apply here in terms of the limitation of data subject rights but they may also be used or interpreted in relation to earlier points in the Bill, where public interest was invoked. I have a number of areas of concern in regard to subsection (7), however I want to highlight section 54(7) matters of public interest include, in particular "(h) matters relating to international protection and immigration". Will individual's data rights be constrained or overridden when it relates to immigration? What are the circumstances in which this will apply? I think there is a danger of inequity of treatment, and prejudice. I have a real concern, that any person, be they a citizen, an immigrant, or an EU citizen and sharing the rights of the GDPR as well should be subject to data protection in the same way as other person. I feel there is a lack of clarity in paragraph (h) which refers to "safeguarding the economic or financial interests of the European Union or the State, including on monetary, budgetary and taxation matters" and it would be a very serious concern if immigration became in any way a basis for the restriction of a data subject rights.

  That would be fine in respect of taxation matters, but what is not clear to me is what would happen in a case where an individual's exercise of his or her rights were to have a cost to the State, for example if an individual is asking to be informed of any breaches of his or her personal data. An individual's right to have the appropriate treatment of his or her data should not be removed simply because by exercising that right, the individual may have put a cost on the State.  Section 54(7)(i) would allow a Department to say that, if it allowed an individual to exercise his or her rights, it may have to increase his or her payment or to offer compensation and might leave itself open to a suit in the European Court of Justice or elsewhere under the GDPR. There is a real concern that we could see access to justice and rights in the area of data protection being precluded simply because giving such access might cost money. I know the Minister will say there are other points to consider such as the necessity test but I feel this section is wide-reaching. Perhaps the Minister could fully assure me in this regard, but that is my concern in respect of section 54(7).

  I will not go through each amendment in detail because I will not be pressing any of them. I just wanted to highlight two examples in what is a very long list of circumstances in which the public interest is to be interpreted very widely to the detriment of individual rights.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Would the Minister like to respond?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Perhaps we will take the six amendments together and then I will respond. Alternatively I can respond now.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Is anyone else offering on amendments Nos. 29 to 34?

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I will say very briefly that I am prepared to withdraw amendments Nos. 30 and 31 and to reserve the right to table them again on Report Stage. The Minister had indicated that he would be open to looking at amendment No. 31 which proposes to insert “and proportionate” after "necessary" in section 54(3)(a).

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Yes.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile So that is okay. I withdraw amendments Nos. 30 and 31 on that basis and reserve the right to table them again on Report Stage.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin The Senator cannot withdraw them until we get to them. We will have to do that process again.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I appreciate that. I did indicate already that I would revisit it, and I will. These amendments to section 54 give effect to Article 23 of the GDPR. I accept that there has been some public commentary about this section which, in many respects, has involved some misunderstanding as to the likely impact it will have. The overall purpose of this section is to offer protection to the public. These objectives are very much in the public interest. I do not see any circumstances in which it could be described as restricting the data protection rights of citizens. I would not like that interpretation to endure because the overall purpose of the section is to provide protection to the public and individuals. I will give some examples of what is intended in this section.

  If we take, for example, the Medical Council or the Property Services Regulatory Authority, both embark on investigations from time to time in respect of doctors or estate agents on foot of complaints from clients or patients who allege that a serious breach or lapse has occurred or, in many cases, that a person is unfit to practice. If the data protection rights of the doctor, estate agent or auctioneer concerned are not restricted on a temporary basis while the complaint is being investigated, it would be open to that person to apply to have the data rectified, restricted or even erased completely. Of course any of these actions would have the consequence of ensuring the investigation would not be satisfactorily concluded or even take place, which would be against the interests of the person making the complaint and may well be against the public interest in the matter of the investigation of a complaint.

  I would like to make it clear that regulations made under this section will permit the regulatory body concerned and other similar regulatory bodies to carry out their statutory obligations to conduct inquiries or investigate complaints in the knowledge that the individuals being investigated will not be permitted to exercise data subject rights in a manner that could derail or jeopardise such activities. Those being investigated and who are the subject matter of a complaint will not be permitted to exercise these rights to rectification or erasure while investigations are ongoing.

  In a similar manner, section 54(7) will permit investigations of, for example, an alleged harassment or sexual harassment incident in the workplace and will not permit the alleged perpetrator of such an act to obstruct or frustrate the investigation that will take place by seeking to exercise rights of access, constriction, rectification or erasure of personal data. That is important. Article 23 of the GDPR allows limited restrictions on data subject rights for such purposes, and this section gives effect to that article by allowing such restrictions in order to safeguard important objectives of general public interest. It will introduce higher levels of data protection safeguards which will be superior to or will bolster restrictions already in place under section 5 of the Data Protection Act 1988, which will be well known to Senators.

  I want to stress that the restrictions permitted by Article 23 of the GDPR are far more limited that those permitted under current law. In future, restrictions will be subject to the following conditions: they must be set out in a legislative measure, that is either in primary legislation or in regulations; they must respect the essence of the individual’s rights, which of course involves respect for individual freedoms; and they should be necessary and proportionate in a democratic society. These three important conditions are met in the text of section 54.

  Sections 54(1) and 54(2) give effect to the introductory text of Article 23(1). Section 54(3) restricts the exercise of data subject rights and corresponding controller obligations in respect of the important objectives of general public interest outlined in sections 54(3)(a) to 54(3)(c). These include, for example, the matter of Cabinet confidentiality, the independence of the Judiciary, and the matter of parliamentary privilege, which would be well known to us here in the Houses of the Oireachtas. In the case of parliamentary privilege, the right of a data subject named during debates in this House to have his or her personal data erased from the record of proceedings is restricted in section 54(3). The manner in which data subject rights could be exercised in respect of parliamentary proceedings was raised with my Department by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission during preparation of the Bill. This provision has been included in order to address the matters that were raised on that occasion.

  I will give a brief example of an issue relating to section 54(3)(b), which carries over section 4(4A) of the 1988 Act, which is important in the context of protected disclosures and other activity that might be described as whistleblowing. This provision will protect those who wish to provide information about wrongdoing in confidence and in the knowledge that the origin of the disclosure will not be made known to the individual about whom they are providing the confidential information. Like the previous examples I have given, this section is included because it is in the public interest that the provision of such information be protected and that this new data protection regime does not in any way become an obstacle to such activity.  Subsection (6) creates a regulation-making power whereby such restrictions on the exercise of data subject rights and corresponding obligations on the controller may also apply in the case of processing for other important objectives of general public interest, including those set out in subsection (7).

  I want to turn now to the specific amendments. For the reasons I have outlined, I cannot accept amendments Nos. 29, 30, 32 and 34, which seek to delete important subsections, namely, subsections (3), (4), (6), (7) and (8) from the Bill. I am, however, willing to revisit amendment No. 33 on Report Stage. It currently refers to "matters relating to international protection and immigration". I take on board the concerns expressed by Senator Higgins and I accept that the wording can be improved. It is intended to deal, for example, with cases involving fraudulent applications or cases where applications for protection would be based on illegality or misrepresentation. We will come back to that. I commit to perhaps improving the wording to accord with the point raised by Senator Higgins.

  Senator Ó Donnghaile stated that he will not press amendment No. 31. I am willing to revisit this issue to ensure that we do not have unintended adverse consequences.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I thank the Minister for the fact that he has indicated that he is willing to work with Senator Ó Donnghaile and me on some of the sections in this area. I note that while the Minister has rightly pointed out that there are circumstances in which these measures may protect, nonetheless the very titling of this section is a restriction on exercise of data subject's rights, so it is a section of restrictions. There are appropriate points. It is possibly a problem we have throughout the Bill in that very good and appropriate cases are sometimes placed alongside what I would believe are possibly less appropriate uses. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that the Minister has indicated he may work with me in respect of section 54(7)(h). I am still concerned about section 54(7)(i). The Minister did not get a chance to address that in his response. I am concerned about the danger that a cost to the State may be invoked in respect of a person exercising their rights. Does the Minister have any comment on this before we move to vote?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I do not really see any need to amend the matter of safeguarding the economic or financial interests of the European Union or the State on the matter of important financial or taxation issues.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Perhaps a proportionality test might be appropriate with regard to that.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I think there are other sections of the Bill that will deal adequately with that. I would be prepared to accept what the Senator said in respect of international protection and immigration issues.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Is Senator Higgins withdrawing amendment No. 29?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I will withdraw it and reserve the right to reintroduce it.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendments Nos. 30 to 34, inclusive, not moved.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Amendments Nos. 35 and 53 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 35:

In page 37, line 25, to delete "the essence of".

I initially tabled these amendments because I was concerned that the phrase "the essence of" of data protection as opposed to data protection could be perceived as saying that regulations should respect the essence of the right to data protection. It seemed to be cleaner that they would respect the right to data protection. Nonetheless, having revisited the GDPR, I realise that "the essence of" is a phrase within the GDPR so I will not press these amendments. However, I note with a bit of concern that the language in the GDPR around "the essence of" is a bit stronger. The Bill talks about the essence of the right to data protection and protection in the interests of the data subject. The language in the GDPR talks about respecting the essence of the right to data protection and providing for suitable and specific measures to safeguard the fundamental rights and the interests of the data subject, so the language in the GDPR might be a bit stronger. That said, I will not press these amendments. I realise that it is a phrase that is used in the GDPR. I think, for the record, that it might be really useful if the Minister could clarify his interpretation of "the essence of" rights by possibly speaking briefly to that.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Does the Minister wish to comment?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Senator Higgins has answered her own question. The words "the essence of" are included in the corresponding provisions of the GDPR so excluding the words in these sections would create an unacceptable divergence between the GDPR and the provisions in Part 5 in terms of the transposition of the directive. These words are used to convey the idea that the essential, appropriate, necessary and indispensable aspects of the right to data protection must be respected in all cases. As a consequence of saying that, I believe the words "the essence of" are appropriate. I accept what Senator Higgins has said, which is that any divergence would be problematic. I believe it is important that we ensure that we do not have the type of divergence that might otherwise be the case.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is the amendment being withdrawn?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I reserve the right to reintroduce it.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 36:

In page 37, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:
"(11) (a) Any regulations under this section shall be referred to the Data Protection Commissioner before their enactment, who shall conduct an impact assessment, undertaken by the Data Protection Commission.

(b) The impact assessment shall have the purpose of ascertaining whether the proposed processing of special categories is—
(i) necessary,

(ii) proportionate,

(iii) is in compliance with subsection (4) of this section, and

(iv) is in compliance with the GDPR.
(c) The impact assessment, shall be returned to the Minister within three months of the Ministers referral, and it shall make recommendations as to whether the proposed processing of special categories is in compliance with the criteria laid out in paragraph (b) and shall recommend any changes necessary to the regulation to ensure compliance, or may recommend that the minister not proceed with the regulation.

(d) In the event that the Minister does not follow the recommendation of the Commission, the Government shall publish in Iris Oifigiúil a reasoned written explanation of the decision of the Government not to follow the recommendation of the Commission.

(e) In the event that the Minister does not follow the recommendation of the Commission, the Government shall cause to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas a statement containing a reasoned written explanation of the decision of the Government not to follow the recommendation of the Commission.".

The Minister will be glad to hear that I am speaking on it to indicate that I will withdraw it while reserving the right to bring it forward at a later stage. I have a number of other amendments I will come back to.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 54 agreed to.

  Sections 55 to 62, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 63

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 37:

In page 44, line 9, to delete “resulting from specific technical processing”.

I am withdrawing the amendment and reserving the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Government amendment No. 38:

In page 44, to delete line 36, and in page 45, to delete lines 1 to 4 and substitute the following:
" "genetic data” means personal data relating to the inherited or acquired genetic characteristics of an individual that give unique information about the physiology or the health of the individual and that result, in particular, from an analysis of a biological sample from the individual in question;".

  Amendment put and agreed to.

  Section 63, as amended, agreed to.

  Section 64 agreed to.

SECTION 65

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendments Nos. 39 to 41, inclusive, and No. 45 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

  Government amendment No. 39:

In page 49, line 31, to delete "the purposes of".

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan These are drafting amendments that speak for themselves.  They are being proffered to ensure consistency with the corresponding provisions in Part 3. There are no real changes to the substance of the legislation and I am unsure of the extent to which the amendments require debate.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I will not delay matters. Most of the amendments are fine and I will not even oppose amendment No. 45 but I note that it relates to section 85 (4) which provides for an exception to where a data subject has a right to information from a controller. It states that the right to information does not apply where the information is already in the possession of the data subject or where "in the case of processing for the purposes of archiving in the public interest, scientific or historical research, or for statistical use, the provision of the information proves impossible or would involve a disproportionate effort". I am just indicating that on Report Stage I may come back to some of the consequences of amendment No. 45 in respect of section 85 and its subsections.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 40:

In page 49, to delete lines 32 to 34 and substitute the following:
“(a) archiving purposes in the public interest,

(b) scientific or historical research purposes, or

(c) statistical purposes,”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 41:

In page 49, line 35, to delete “archiving, research or use” and substitute “processing”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 65, as amended, agreed to.

  Section 66 agreed to.

SECTION 67

  Question proposed: "That section 67 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I wish to indicate that I may bring forward amendments to section 67 on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sections 68 to 70, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 71

Question proposed: "That section 71 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I wish to indicate that I may bring forward amendments to section 71 on Report Stage as it relates to automatic processing.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sections 72 to 75, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 76

  Government amendment No. 42:

In page 58, to delete lines 35 to 38 and substitute the following:
“(b) the monitoring by the controller of processing carried out by the controller,

(c) the monitoring by the processor of processing carried out by the processor,”.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I wish to speak to the section.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I am dealing with the amendment.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins The amendment relates to the processing systems, as do many of sections 71 to 79, inclusive. I note that, as was indicated earlier in the debate, there may be scope for the introduction of additional standards that are complementary but not contrary to the GDPR in regard to such sections. In respect of these sections where specific measures are set out, I intend to look to how we may be able to add complementary measures that might make them more effective, such as the introduction of timelines in regard to some of the measures or time limits for some of the actions outlined. It is a wide point but as the section was opened for discussion by the Government amendment this is a useful opportunity to make that point.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 76, as amended, agreed to.

  Sections 77 to 80, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 81

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 43:

In page 63, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:
“(9) Should a data subject request information in relation to a personal data breach which affects them they have the right to be provided with all the pertinent information in respect of that breach and nothing in subsection (2), (4) or (6) shall place a restriction on their access to that information.”.

Section 81 is an area of very serious concern which I will fully pursue. The report of the data commissioner highlighted the very large number of breaches of personal data that have taken place in the State. For example, in regard to the HSE, personal files have been left in public places or found in the street. Those are examples of accidental and inadvertent but nonetheless very serious data breaches. Crucially, there have also been cases of criminal and inappropriate data breaches such as the case in Donegal involving an official in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection who sold the personal data of individuals to insurance companies for less than €30 each. Prosecutions in such cases will, of course, follow in the normal course but this section relates to a person's right to know when their personal data has been compromised and breached. It deals with a person's right to know if his or her data has been hacked, his or her files have been left in a bag in a public place or his or her data has been sold. These are very serious concerns in terms of the right of the subject to know of such breaches. The subsection does not deal with the point of redress but, rather, the right of a person to know if there has been a breach of his or her data that should not have happened and is not allowed for under the Act or the many wide exemptions that are given.

  However, section 81 introduces a number of circumstances under which a person might not be informed about a breach of his or her personal data. Subsection (2) provides that a person does not have to be told about a breach of his or her personal data where the controller has implemented appropriate technological and organisational protection measures and the measures, such as encryption, render the personal data difficult to understand or unintelligible to any person, or "the controller has taken measures in response to the personal data breach that ensure that the high risk to the rights and freedoms of a data subject from the breach is no longer likely to materialise". I am very worried by section (2)(b) because it removes the right to notification if the controller does not think anything bad will happen or a risk is unlikely to materialise because of the breach. Is it a three second rule or what are the rules in that regard? The phrasing of the subsection is very wide.

  Subsection (4) is of particular concern. It provides that a controller does not have to tell an individual about a breach of his or her data where to do so would involve a disproportionate effort. The question of what constitutes a disproportionate effort arises in that context.

  Subsection (6) introduces a measure governing a situation where a controller notifies the commission of a data breach but has not notified the data subject to whom the personal data relate under subsection (1) or (4), as the case may be, of the personal data breach. It is a safeguard whereby the controller can tell the commission of the breach and the commission may choose to notify the data subject.

  Subsection (7) is entirely reasonable and provides that a controller may restrict the exercise of the right of a data subject to be notified of a personal data breach where to do so constitutes a necessary and proportionate measure in a democratic society. It sets a high bar.

  Although I have concerns about all of these subsections, my amendment is extremely mild. It is milder than my concerns. I do not currently seek to remove those provisions, although I may do so on Report Stage. The amendment still allows for a controller to be permitted not to inform somebody of a data breach under these dangerously wide circumstances but I am trying to put in a very basic safeguard such that if a person inquires as to whether his or her data has been breached, the issues of whether the commission has been notified under subsection (6), the information was presented in an easily intelligible manner if a high level of effort was made to communicate it should not restrict the person's right to know whether his or her data has been breached.  I will come back to our example in Donegal, or the example of the case files left in the street. I am not proposing that there should be a proactive requirement to inform an individual. I am saying that if an individual asks a data controller whether his or her information was hacked, sold or contained in a file that was left in a public place, the minimum that the data controller should have to do is answer the individual's query. This is a mild amendment to a section about which I have much wider concerns, to be honest. I hope the Minister will accept this mild amendment to provide for a stop-gap which will ensure an individual can get an honest answer from a data controller in respect of his or her own data.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Part 5 of this Bill, which deals with criminal justice bodies, does not relate to the HSE or the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is concerned with a breach on the part of a criminal justice body, such as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Irish Prison Service. This section of the Bill places a clear obligation on the data controller to inform a data subject if there is a high risk to the data subject's rights and freedoms arising from a breach. It clearly specifies that the data subject must be informed of the nature and likely consequences of the breach and must be given a description of the measures being taken or proposed to be taken to mitigate any adverse effects. I am not sure the insertion of the amendment proposed by Senator Higgins would have the effect she appears to wish for. Therefore, I am unable to accept the amendment. All the issues we are dealing with under section 81 of the Bill pertain to criminal justice.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I welcome the Minister's clarification of the scope of the potential application of this section. I continue to have concerns about the right of an individual to know that there has been a breach. A data breach is not normal processing - a data breach is a breach that is outside normal or appropriate processing; for example, where there has been improper or inappropriate sharing of a person's data. Some of the high-profile cases, tribunals of inquiry and debates we have had here in Ireland in recent years have pertained to areas of criminal justice. Questions of inappropriate breaches have arisen in the areas of criminal justice, criminal investigation and policing. There is still a question around the right of an individual to know when his or her information rights were inappropriately breached. In the normal course of prosecution, it is absolutely fine for data to be shared. Perhaps it is something we can revisit. I am certainly happy with the Minister's clarification that the concern is narrower than I might have hoped, but I still have concerns. Nonetheless, I will not press the amendment at this point. I hope to engage on it further.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I take the Senator's point and appreciate her decision not to press this amendment at this stage. If a data breach involves a high risk for the subject, of course that person must be provided with all the appropriate and relevant information. He or she may even come back and request further information if that is deemed appropriate. If the breach involves little or no risk and is a matter of no consequence, there are circumstances in which a person might not become aware that a breach has taken place at all.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I ask the Minister to note that the question of encrypted data also arises in this context. A great deal of data in the area of criminal justice and policing is necessarily encrypted. It would be unfortunate if that served to deny an individual who is affected by a data breach the right to information relating to such a breach.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Yes.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I accept the Minister's points for now. Maybe we can come back to this issue.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 81 agreed to.

  Section 82 agreed to.

NEW SECTION

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 44:

In page 65, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:
"Protection of data protection officers
83. (1) The Data Protection Commission, shall provide a protection, whereby data protection officers may seek the assistance of the Data Protection Commissioner, due to the fact that the data protection office is not in a position to carry out their role fully, due to inappropriate interference from the data controller, or duress, harassment or victimisation.

(2) Where the Commission receives a complaint under subsection (1), it shall, in addition, make a decision—
(a) as to whether a corrective power should be exercised in respect of the controller or processor concerned, and

(b) where it decides to so exercise a corrective power, the corrective power that is to be exercised.
(3) The Commission, where it makes a decision referred to in subsection (2)(b), shall exercise the corrective power concerned.".

The need to protect data protection officers is at the heart of this straightforward and self-explanatory amendment. I would be keen to hear the Minister's reflections on it before deciding on my next steps.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I have some sympathy with the issue at hand. I acknowledge the reasons advanced in support of the far-reaching new section that is being proposed. The position I am adopting in respect of it is the same as the position I adopted earlier when I dealt with a proposal that was first mooted at the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality. I am not going to accept it now because I believe we need an opportunity for further consideration of its provisions. I will revisit this amendment, which seeks to deal with the risk that a data protection officer may encounter a lack of co-operation, on Report Stage. I may even have an opportunity to come back to him in advance of Report Stage. In exploring whether an effective remedy is already available to data protection officers, I will look in particular at the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. Senators will be aware that a disclosure of relevant information is protected under that Act if, in the reasonable belief of a worker, it tends to show a relevant wrongdoing and it came to his or her attention in connection with the worker's employment. Section 5(3) of the 2014 Act defines "relevant wrongdoing" as including circumstances in which "a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation". I think this would include the obligations of a data controller under the general data protection regulation and this legislation, including the controller's obligations towards the data protection officer.

  Section 6 of the 2014 Act provides for the making of a protected disclosure to a worker's employer. Section 7 of that Act provides for disclosure to an external person who has been prescribed in an order made by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. We will come back to this. I draw the further attention of Senators to Statutory Instrument No. 339 of 2014, in which the Minister prescribed a range of persons whom, by reason of the nature of their statutory responsibilities or functions, appear appropriate as recipients of protected disclosures. This order prescribes the Data Protection Commissioner as a recipient of disclosures in respect of all matters concerning compliance with data protection law. Subject to verification, I am of the view that this may provide an effective remedy when a data protection officer is concerned that he or she is experiencing difficulty in the performance of his or her functions. A further advantage would be that any data protection officer making such a protected disclosure would be in a position to draw on the extensive protections provided under Part 3 of the 2014 Act. When we come back to this matter, I will have a further opportunity to give the Senator appropriate assurances that this matter has been adequately dealt with and to see whether I can accommodate the proposal she has made.  I ask the Senator to give me a further opportunity to get back to her with appropriate assurances that the matter has already been adequately dealt with or that we will see if we can accommodate the proposal made by the Senator.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile It is important to say, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, at this juncture that I am always far-reaching so I will always stretch my neck out. Based on what the Minister has said and earlier considerations, I do not want to divide the House on issues. I fundamentally believe in the sentiment and practicalities sought by my amendment. The Minister has given me a number of assurances that he will try to offer a compromise as we move forward. I accept his assurances and shall give him some space. I withdraw my amendment but reserve the right to bring it back on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 83 agreed to.

  Section 84 agreed to.

 SECTION 85

  Government amendment No. 45:

In page 66, lines 24 and 25, to delete “for the purposes of archiving in the public interest, scientific or historical research, or for statistical use” and substitute the following:
“for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 85, as amended, agreed to.

 SECTION 86

  Question proposed: "That section 86 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I wish to advise that I may return to section 86 on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 87

  Government amendment No. 46:

In page 69, line 6, to delete “and (9),” and substitute “and (9)”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 47:

In page 69, line 18, to delete “, sections 88(4)(ii) and 89 and” and substitute “and sections 88(4)(ii) and 89”.

  Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendments Nos. 48 to 50, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Government amendment No. 48:

   In page 70, line 22, to delete “and”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 49:

In page 70, to delete lines 23 to 26 and substitute the following:
“(ii) each controller from which the personal data concerned were received, and

(iii) each person to whom the personal data concerned were disclosed,”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 50:

In page 70, to delete lines 28 to 30.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Question proposed: "That section 87, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Section 87 refers to the right to erasure and the restriction of processing or the right to forget. I know the matter was discussed extensively early on. I wish to advise that I wish to table amendments on this area. I am very keen to work with the Government and discuss ways to improve the delivery of the right to be forgotten in respect of children and other citizens. There may be scope for complementary measures. I shall come back to this matter on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Section 88 agreed to.

SECTION 89

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendments Nos. 51 and 52 are in the name of Senator Alice-Mary Higgins. Amendments Nos. 51 and 52 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 51

In page 74, line 30, after “Commission” to insert “and subject to Cabinet approval”.

My amendment refers to another restriction. Section 89 refers to the restrictions on the exercise of data subject rights. This is another section that restricts the right of an individual in terms of data protection. My amendment expresses my concern, which has been flagged very heavily, about simply allowing ministerial discretion after taking advice from Cabinet. I tabled these amendments quite early. My proposals for section 32 might be more appropriate here. I wish to note the proposal put forward by Sinn Féin in respect of the following idea. If a Minister is going to decide to restrict an individual's or a data subject's rights, or produce regulations that allow for such restrictions, it should not be enough to simply take advice from the commission. Instead, if a Minister chooses not to follow advice then he or she should explain the rationale for his or her decision.

  My amendment No. 51 seeks to insert the phrase "subject to Cabinet approval," which is in the spirit of collective responsibility. I tabled my amendment to prevent a situation where an individual Minister may, for example, choose to introduce regulations that restrict data subject rights without the full knowledge of all of the Government, given that the consequences of a breach of the general data protection regulation, GDPR, will certainly fall on all of the Government and, indeed, the State as a whole.

  I will not press my amendment. I wish to highlight the fact that the restriction has been approached from three or four different angles in this Bill. Until we deal with the inappropriately high level of pure ministerial discretion in this Bill then the matter will arise in multiple forms. Finally, I reserve the right to come back to this matter on Report Stage.   

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 52:

In page 74, line 33, after “Commission” to insert “and subject to Cabinet approval”.

I withdraw my amendment but reserve the right to come back to the matter on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 53 not moved.

  Section 89 agreed to.

SECTION 90

  Government amendment No. 54:

   In page 75, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:
“(4) Nothing in this section shall require the Commission to disclose to a data subject whether or not a controller has processed, or is processing, personal data relating to him or her.”.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan This amendment provides clarity in relation to the function of the data protection commission under section 90. It clarifies what is already implicit in section 90(3), which is where the commission informs a data subject that it has carried out all necessary verifications or reviews in response to his or her request. It is not obliged to inform the data subject concerned whether his or her personal data have been, or are being, processed.

  A particular risk arising under this section, for example, is that an individual who suspects that the Director of Public Prosecutions may be considering the possibility of prosecuting him or her, possibly for an offence committed many years earlier, may seek to exercise his or her right of access, indirectly, through the data protection commission. While the commission will be obliged under this section to verify or review the lawfulness of processing, this amendment will ensure that legal action cannot be taken against the commission to force it to reveal the outcome of its verification or review. Let us remember that we are dealing with criminal justice issues.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I understand the scenarios that the Minister has described in terms of an area of criminal prosecution and others. Nonetheless, it seems the provision is a somewhat wider exclusion of a person's right, given the circumstances. It may be possible to put forward a different version of this amendment that specifically relates to areas such as criminal prosecution and not have as wide an impact. I wonder about the choice to opt for a wider framing rather than explicitly limiting it to questions of investigation. I know that the prosecutions would not just be criminal ones and it is not just the DPP. I recognise, from the earlier debate, that people may want to find out whether they are being investigated for ethical wrongdoing and so forth. Why has the amendment been given a wide frame rather than a more specific one?

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 90, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 91

  Question proposed: "That section 91 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Sections 91 and 95 are related and both refer to the transfer of data to recipients in third countries. I wish to note that this area will suffer serious consequences from Brexit. I firmly believe that this matter has not been adequately or appropriately dealt with, not by ourselves, but in respect of Brexit negotiations. I wish to signal that the UK must take action on this area. I may table amendments for section 95 only because it allows for a derogation from section 91.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We will discuss section 95 in a minute.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I do not oppose section 91. I wish to flag that this issue will emerge.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Section 92 agreed to.

SECTION 93

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendment No. 55 is in the name of Senator Higgins. Amendments Nos. 55 and 56 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 55:

  In page 77, line 9, to delete “or” and substitute “and”.

This refers to where personal data is being transferred to a third country. This again will relate to some of the issues around Brexit and so on. I refer to personal data being transferred to a third country and to section 91(1). I have a question around that and section 95. I refer to a country in respect of which a decision has not been made in the context of the European Commission - for example, where the EU does not have a relationship in respect of data processing with that third country.

  There is a bar here, namely, section 91(1)(a) and (b). Data can be transferred to a country with which the European Commission does not have an agreement and where there is a legally binding instrument that applies to the transfer with appropriate safeguards or the controller transferring the personal data, or on whose behalf the personal data are being prepared, has assessed all the circumstances relating to the transfer and is satisfied that appropriate safeguards exist with regard to the personal data.

  My amendment is a strengthening of this. I suggest we should satisfy both criteria and change the word "or" at the end of section 91(1)(a) to the word "and", partly because I am concerned that section 91(1)(b) on its own, which can stand even in the absence of any legal instrument, might be a little weak. It may leave large discretionary decision-making to a data controller who is transferring data. I refer to him or her having assessed the circumstances and being satisfied safeguards exist. I am concerned about that and seek to strengthen it by attaching it to section 91(1)(a). Perhaps the Minister can indicate if there is a reason not to do that.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Section 91(1)(a) and (b) are alternatives and if there is a legally-binding instrument in place that ensures the appropriate safeguards, that of course is sufficient. If there is not, then section 91(1)(b) will apply and the controller will be required to make details of the transfer available to the Data Protection Commission. I cannot accept amendment No. 55 nor am I in a position to accept amendment No. 56 which proposes to insert the words "or any subject affected by the transfer" into subsection (3).

  This section is intended to cover a situation in which personal data may be transferred to the police, prosecution service or, indeed, judiciary of a third country in connection with what, in effect, will be an ongoing investigation into serious international crimes. An obligation to inform the individual concerned could have the effect of seriously calling into question the effective investigation, detection or prosecution of such an offence. That would have a consequence which is clearly not intended by the proposer of the amendment. For that reason, I am not in a position to accept it.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 56:

In page 77, line 28, after “Commission” to insert “or any data subject affected by the transfer”.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 93 agreed to.

  Sections 94 to 99, inclusive, agreed to.

  SECTION 100

  Government amendment No. 57:

  In page 82, to delete lines 24 and 25 and substitute the following:

“(b) a provision of this Act, or a regulation under this Act, that gives further effect to the Data Protection Regulation;”.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 1.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 58:

  In page 82, to delete lines 26 to 28 and substitute the following:

“ “relevant provision” means a provision of this Act, or a regulation under this Act, that gives effect to the Directive;”.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 1.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 59:

  In page 83, line 3, to delete “obtained in the course of the inquiry by” and substitute “obtained, in the course of the inquiry, by”.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 2.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 100, as amended, agreed to.

  Sections 101 to 103, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 104

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendments Nos. 60 to 66, inclusive, in the name of Senator Higgins are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 60:

In page 84, lines 27 to 30, to delete all words from and including “shall” in line 27 down to and including line 30 and substitute the following:

      "shall investigate the complaint, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the complaint, unless the Commission considers the complaint to be frivolous or vexatious.”.

This an overriding concern which cuts across the Bill. As a whole, the Bill provides a number of exemptions for public authorities and, as I mentioned at the very beginning of our discussions, it is not robust enough in ensuring effective mechanisms for the realisation of rights with data. We have a situation in the Bill where for the individual who wishes to call on, or invoke, his or her rights to data protection, that individual's rights to insist on data protection are voidable in many circumstances in relation to public authorities and very difficult to enforce in relation to private companies. To a large extent, the only course of action for an individual who wishes to pursue his or her rights and justice in terms of data protection in respect of the data controller is to go to the data commission. However, the data commission is empowered to not take on an individual's concern. Any individual can pursue a case to the European Court of Justice but that is a very high bar. It is not something available to most people.

  In many cases, people will want to seek justice or redress at the earliest point. They may not be interested, for example, in pursuing cases through the courts for compensation. In many cases, individuals may simply want an appropriate action to be taken, perhaps, for example, to have their data removed if it has been inappropriately held or their data not to continue to be shared, if they believe it has been inappropriately shared.

  For people who find their data rights contravened, or for people who believe they have been contravened, after going to the local data controller, the main course of redress they have is to go to the Data Protection Commission. However, in this section, the Data Protection Commission is given the right to refuse to investigate a complaint. I am aware that under this Bill the Data Protection Commission will have a huge volume of work placed on it. That is clear in all the sections of the Bill. However, I am concerned that the commission may choose to deny an individual an investigation of his or her complaint.

  My amendment reads that the commission shall investigate the complaint, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the complaint, unless the commission considers the complaint to be frivolous or vexatious. This is to introduce a higher bar for any case where the data commission may choose not to investigate a case. We all know there may be cases which would be frivolous or vexatious. However, those should be the bars rather than a danger that it may be refused.

  The other point is that section 104 states that the commission shall examine the complaint and shall, in accordance with this section, take such action in respect of it as the commission, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the complaint, considers appropriate. Amendment No. 61 seeks to insert the following words: "with the consent of the parties concerned" after the word "Commission". That is in respect of consent around further action. I understand there may be situations whereby a criminal justice issue arises, so I am not going to press that amendment because I realise it is imperfectly worded. However, the spirit of that amendment is to try to say there should still be a level of consent of the parties involved.  I previously spoke about the amendment of the Bill on page 85, line 6, saying the rejection of the complaint would only arise where the commission considered it to be frivolous or vexatious. Amendment No. 63 reads: "In page 85, line 7, to delete “dismissal of the complaint” and substitute “dismiss the complaint if the Commission is of the opinion that an infringement of a relevant enactment has not taken place". It is not clear if dismissal will be a matter of judicial interpretation. Will it be dismissal on a specific basis or simply a dismissal?

  Amendment No. 66 reads: “(iii) rectify or erase personal data or restrict processing pursuant to Article 16, 17 or 18, and, in respect of that action, to comply with Article 19 and, where applicable, Article 17(2)”.

  The last point is probably one of the more important as we know it can cause distress. It refers to where an action has been taken. When the commission has made a decision, it should give the complainant notice in writing informing him or her of the action taken and also the rationale for said action. For example, if it believes the complaint has no basis, that there has been no transgression or that it is vexatious, the reason the action is being dismissed should be given. It is part of a wider concern I have.

  I will not press any further amendment since I know that we are coming close to the end, but how does the Minister see individuals being able to effectively take action when their data rights have been breached? They will, of course, complain to the data controller, but will it be done through the data protection commission? If the commission refuses, what recourse will there be? On Report Stage I may seek to bring forward certain mechanisms to, where there is a large volume of individual complaints, trigger an automatic investigation. There may be a large number of individuals who feel powerless to complain on a subject. Perhaps where a large volume of individual complaints have built up, it might trigger an automatic mechanism.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan There are seven amendments being discussed, five of which are in the name of Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, while two are Government amendments. Amendments Nos. 60 and 62 speak to the possibility that the commission might not investigate or dismiss complaints on the grounds that they were vexatious or frivolous. That would not be acceptable. Subsection (1) which complies with the GDPR outlines the approach the commission must take in dealing with complaints. Likewise, subsection (5) outlines alternative courses of action that may be taken by the commission in handling such complaints. I do not think it is appropriate to depart from these avenues. Therefore, I will not accept amendments Nos. 60 and 62.

  Amendments Nos. 64 and 66 are merely drafting amendments which do not involve any great change of substance. I have listened to the points raised by Senator Higgins on amendment No. 61.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendment No. 66 addresses a different section. We are on section 104.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I will not accept amendment No. 65 because I do not think including the words proposed and the rationale for said action is needed because all administrative bodies, including the data protection commission, will be required on a general basis to give reasons for their decisions. Without knowing the reasons, it would be very difficult or virtually impossible to appeal a decision. There is an expectation that reasons will be given. Therefore, I do not see the necessity for amendment No. 65.

  Similarly, on amendment No. 61, I do not think the proposed insertion of the extra words - "with the consent of the parties concerned"-----

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I accept that.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan -----is necessary because in any reference to a resolution that might be reached on amicable terms express consent would be necessary. One cannot have a resolution on an amicable basis without there being consent. Subsection (4) makes it clear that where the commission considers an amicable resolution cannot be reached, it will then proceed to handle the complaint under subsection (5) or section 108 in the case of a complaint that might be cross-Border in nature.

  With regard to amendment No. 63, it will be a matter for the commission to determine the grounds for the dismissal of a complaint, but it will only be done on the basis of full knowledge that any such legally binding decision may be appealed to a court under section 145.

  I know that the Senator is not pressing the amendments, but it is important that I give her the reasons I cannot accept them.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I have a question about amendment No. 62. It is the real underlying concern. Does the Minister expect the data protection commission to decline to deal with individual complaints owing to, for example, the volume of work involved? Will he assure us that that will not arise or that he does not see that happening? On amendment No. 52-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I certainly do not see it happening. In the event that it should happen, I would regard it as being less than acceptable if a blanket policy decision was made in such circumstances.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendments Nos. 61 to 63, inclusive, not moved.

  Government amendment No. 64:

In page 85, to delete lines 16 to 18 and substitute the following:
“(iii) rectify or erase personal data or restrict processing pursuant to Article 16, 17 or 18, and, in respect of that action, to comply with Article 19 and, where applicable, Article 17(2);”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Amendment No. 65 not moved.

  Section 104, as amended, agreed to.

  Sections 105 to 107, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 108

  Government amendment No. 66:

In page 87, to delete lines 32 to 34 and substitute the following:
“(iii) rectify or erase personal data or restrict processing pursuant to Article 16, 17 or 18, and, in respect of that action, to comply with Article 19 and, where applicable, Article 17(2);”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 108, as amended, agreed to.

  Sections 109 to 114, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 115

  Government amendment No. 67:

In page 91, line 36, to delete “behalf—” and substitute “behalf:”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 68:

In page 92, line 1, to delete “section 114,” and substitute “section 114;”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 115, as amended, agreed to.

  Sections 116 to 121, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 122

  Government amendment No. 69:

In page 95, line 4, to delete “sections 119 and 120” and substitute “sections 119(3) and 120(3)”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 122, as amended, agreed to.

  Section 123 agreed to.

SECTION 124

  Question proposed: "That section 124 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Section 124 is part of Chapter 4 on inspection, audit and enforcement. I am signalling that as part of the discussion we had on, for example, the automatic triggering of investigations and others, amendments may be tabled to this section on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 125

  Government amendment No. 70:

In page 97, line 31, after “held,” to insert “or”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 71:

In page 99, line 26, to delete “12 months, or both” and substitute “12 months or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 72:

In page 99, line 28, to delete “5 years, or both” and substitute “5 years or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 125, as amended, agreed to.

  Section 126 agreed to.

SECTION 127

  Government amendment No. 73:

In page 101, line 31, to delete “12 months, or both” and substitute “12 months or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 74:

In page 101, line 33, to delete “5 years, or both” and substitute “5 years or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 127, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 128

  Government amendment No. 75:

In page 103, line 33, to delete “12 months, or both” and substitute “12 months or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 76:

In page 103, line 35, to delete “5 years, or both” and substitute “5 years or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 128, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 129

  Question proposed: "That section 129 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins On section 129, I previously discussed the question of compelling, erasure or suspension of development and I am noting that it might be a section for further amendment, and similarly sections 130 and-----

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We are dealing with section 129 first.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 130

  Government amendment No. 77:

In page 107, line 31, to delete “12 months, or both” and substitute “12 months or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 78:

In page 107, line 33, to delete “5 years, or both” and substitute “5 years or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 130, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 131

  Government amendment No. 79:

In page 107, lines 35 to 38, to delete all words from and including “(1) The” in line 35 down to and including line 38 and substitute the following:

“(1) Where Part 5 applies to a controller or processor, the Commission may carry out or cause to be carried out such examination in the form of an audit as it considers appropriate in order to determine whether the practices and procedures of the controller or processor are in compliance with that Part and regulations made under it.”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Question proposed: "That section 131, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins On section 131 and the power of either triggering reports or audits, I am indicating that those are areas on which I may look to make suggestions, if they be compatible with the general data protection regulation, GDPR, on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 132

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 80:

In page 108, line 27, after “circumstances” to insert “where such a limitation can be clearly justified”.

In regard to an investigation, section 132(3) states, "The Commission may define the scope ... of the investigation [but it may] limit the investigation to matters connected with particular circumstances ...", where such a limitation can be clearly justified. The concern would be that where an issue is being investigated and there are consequent and related issues, we would not have a situation whereby there would be an unnatural or undue constraint on the actions of the commission. It is clearly to raise the question that we do not see an excessively narrow frame for investigation which then potentially could lead to consequences whereby there would be a requirement for further investigations, which we know can arise. It is to ensure that we do not investigate one case when there are multiple examples. That is my point. It is a little detailed and it is to do with a concern about the volume and scope of work. I do not need to press the amendment now. I can discuss it with the Minister at another time if he wishes.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 132 agreed to.

SECTION 133

Government amendment No. 81:

In page 110, line 36, to delete “5 years, or both” and substitute “5 years or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 133, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 134

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendment No. 82 is in the name of Senator Alice-Mary Higgins. Amendments Nos. 82 and 83 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 82:

In page 111, line 13, after “the” where it firstly occurs to insert “complainant and the”.

This amendment deals with the question of who receives the information of an investigation report. I am suggesting that the final investigation report, which is prepared by the Data Commissioner, should not simply be shared with the controller or processor to whom the investigation relates but potentially with the complainant also. Amendment No. 83 is similar. If an individual triggers an investigation into, for example, a data controller and the use of their data and there is an investigation and a report, they would be able to know to some extent what was in the report of the investigation and its consequences. It is to ensure that should the individual be a complainant, he or she is kept informed of the resolution that might have emerged.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I know the point the Senator is making but there is a difficulty, and that difficulty would preclude me from accepting the amendments because circumstances could arise which would seriously frustrate and even jeopardise an investigation being carried out by the commission. If these amendments were accepted and inserted in the text, my concern would be that they would render an investigation open to legal challenge on the basis of due process.

  Where a draft report has been prepared on foot of an investigation, procedural justice requires that the contents of such investigation would be shown to the controller or the processor concerned for any representation they wish to make or otherwise. In this regard, the commission will be required to have regard to any such representations, but it does not necessarily require any amendments to the report.

  Senators will be aware that in such circumstances, a complainant does not have any role during this investigative stage of the process so if there was to be consultation with the data subject it could well provide a basis for a later legal challenge to the conclusions reached by the commission or a legal challenge to any sanction that may be decided by the commission that might be appropriate for imposing on the controller or processor concerned. The amendment, in effect, would be contrary to due process and to my mind would run the risk of inviting legal challenge, which would have the effect of frustrating or impeding any investigation. I know that is not the point behind the amendment but I believe that would be a logical consequence, which would turn on its head the point Senator Higgins wishes to make.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I accept the Minister's bona fides in terms of his analysis of it. I still have the concern that in some cases the data controller or the data processor who is being investigated may be a very large and well-resourced entity. That potential imbalance of power is a concern in terms of the individual versus what might be a very powerful or well-resourced data processor or data controller. The Minister seems to have understood my concern and perhaps it can be addressed elsewhere to ensure we do not simply have a case whereby people feel they do not know what happens or why their investigation is dropped. It comes back to the earlier question about knowing the rationale behind the reason a complaint may be dismissed. I am concerned about the imbalance of power, particularly in regard to the private sector and the individual. We can come back to it in other ways.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 83 not moved.

  Government amendment No. 84:

In page 111, to delete line 23 and substitute “subsection (1)(ii), and”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 134, as amended, agreed to.

  Section 135 agreed to.

SECTION 136

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendments Nos. 85 and 86 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I move amendment No. 85:

In page 113, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following:
“(3) The Commission may decide to impose an administrative fine on a controller or processor that is a public authority or body.”.

I presume we are ploughing on beyond 8.40 p.m.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We are not. Therefore, the Senator is up against the clock. However, the Leader is on his way and the Senator is on his feet.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile The Leader is on his way to come to the rescue. I know that we are not allowed to filibuster, but I will try to ensure the Leader makes it here on time.

  Amendment No. 85 would provide that "[t]he Commission may decide to impose an administrative fine on a controller or processor that is a public authority or body". It would allow public bodies to be fined for breaches of data protection legislation, which is not allowed for by the Bill in its current form. Appreciating that the Minister may come at this issue by suggesting it is effectively a zero-sum game, what we would like to do is ensure there would be repercussions and examples set for organisations and bodies which might be in breach of data protection legislation. I am keen to hear the Minister's views on the amendment.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan This is an issue that arose on Second Stage and that has also been in the public domain in the context of this legislation and the general data protection regulation. I put forward reasons administrative fines should be imposed on public authorities and bodies only where they were acting as undertakings as understood under competition law. It is important that we distinguish between the public and private sectors because, unlike the private sector, a fine imposed on the public sector has the effect of reducing the funds available to it to carry out its statutory functions. For example, if a local authority was to face a fine of €100,000 or more, this would undoubtedly result result in a restriction of services. The sanction would ultimately be felt by the citizen, user or potential user of the public services concerned. That is why fining public bodies differs from imposing the same sanction on private bodies. Of course, the general data protection regulation leaves it to member states to decide whether such fines should be imposed on public authorities and bodies and, if so, to what extent. If public bodies were to be fined, Senators would undoubtedly seek redress or funding in lieu of the fine imposed. Were such replacement funds to be provided to compensate for funds lost in paying a fine, there would be a circular flow of public funds. Where a public body is acting as an undertaking and in competition with the private sector, for example, in the provision of transport or hospital services, the Bill allows for the imposition of fines. In that way, we ensure fair trade and a level playing field and that there will not be an element of discrimination between the public and private sectors which might otherwise be the case.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins There is something fundamentally wrong. The rights of the private sector in terms of competition are carefully and preciously guarded, but those of an individual to see to it that there is a consequence when data protection legislation is breached do not seem to carry the same weight and the imposition of fines in this area is not considered to be necessary. We know and have seen the consequences when someone acts with impunity. There will be investigations and reports, but, in the end, there will be no consequences, except where there was an advantage against a private company in terms of its profits. The principles are not defended properly. It is important that there be consequences when data protection legislation is breached. It may be that funds will be reduced and need to be replaced, but they can be replaced with further conditions and caveats imposed. For example, there is nothing to stop rules from being put in place to state there will be a stay on funds where a fine has been administered. If there was no fine, perhaps moneys might be escrowed, subject to compliance and satisfaction of concerns. Otherwise, what will stop public authorities which are defined widely in the Bill from stating they were caught again and again?

  Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Business of Seanad

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I must interrupt proceedings to hear from the Leader.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Notwithstanding what was agreed to on the Order of Business today, it is proposed that the House adjourn at 9.30 p.m. or on completion of Committee Stage of the Data Protection Bill 2018.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is that agreed? Agreed.

Data Protection Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)

SECTION 136

  Debate resumed on amendment No. 85:

In page 113, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following:
“(3) The Commission may decide to impose an administrative fine on a controller or processor that is a public authority or body.”.

-(Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile).

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I will speak specifically to Sinn Féin's amendment which is mild. It does not seek to restore the full, large-scale fines under the general data protection regulation, given that they include fines of 4% of income, turnover and all the rest. It would simply give a power to the commission. I do not believe the commission, as established under the Bill, would be acting frivolously if it were to choose to impose an administrative fine on a processor which was a public authority or body. We would not be triggering automatic fines which might be found to relate to private entities under the general data protection regulation. Nonetheless, we are seeking to ensure the commission would have an additional power to impose a fine where a public body or authority was flagrantly disregarding the general data protection regulation and had repeatedly been found to be in breach of it. That would be appropriate. Will the Minister speak specifically to that question? Is there a reason he believes the commission should not have the power to impose an administrative fine on a controller? I am sure caveats that the commission would act in accordance with due diligence and that there would be proportionality, a necessity to do so and all the rest could be added. It could even be seen as a measure of last resort that would be triggered after multiple breaches of data protection rights.

  I am also concerned about where public authorities and bodies are considered to be undertakings. The concern is that the private sector should not be disadvantaged where the public sector acts as an undertaking. However, a division has perhaps been inadvertently opened between those public sector bodies which are acting as undertakings and those which are directly delivering public services. Will we see some public authorities being held to adhering to a higher standard than others? That is a concern. Will the Minister address these two points?

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Senator Alice-Mary Higgins surmised much of what I was going to say to the Minister. It might just be legislative fatigue at this stage, but I did not hear anything from the Minister which convinced me that there would be repercussions for public bodies or other entities in breach of data protection rules, regardless of whether it was a one off or consistent.  I did not hear anything from the Minister that would convince me that there will be repercussions for public bodies or other entities which breach data protection regulations, whether once, numerous times or consistently. What are the incentives that will discourage such entities from repeating the offences? We are not saying this for the craic; there are serious and well known examples of large-scale data protection issues and losses by public and other entities. At the risk of being the most hated man in Seanad Éireann, I am minded to push the amendment, but I would rather hear something from the Minister to ensure the issues raised by Senator Alice-Mary Higgins will be addressed.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan There is no question of acting with impunity or any public body or company not being held responsible for its actions, be it a breach or anything else. A civil remedy is available to an injured or complaining party. Preparing or listing penalties and fines in law, in many ways, might accord with the reality of business, but I would like public bodies to apply the highest standards as they are charged with ensuring there is no illegality, breach or injured party. I would be concerned if standards were not applied or breaches were widespread and public bodies which are funded by the taxpayer paid fines such that public services were reduced and people suffered. There is a circular flow of public money-----

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Am I correct in saying funds are paid back into the Exchequer?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan The Senator can come in after the Minister.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I would like to see a regime in place in the public sector that would ensure the application of the highest standards. That, rather than a list of substantial fines, should be the focus of our endeavours. When public bodies and authorities act as undertakers or engage in private sector competition, there should not be an unfair advantage to the private sector, as evidenced by Senator Alice-Mary Higgins. A fine should be available as a penalty, but the main remedy will be a civil action. For the first time under data protection law, an injured party or complainant will be able to take a civil action and it will be open to the courts to assess damages and make an award against a body in the public sector, in the same way as they might against a body in the private sector.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins People might be confused. When fines are paid, they are paid into the Exchequer, as the Minister can confirm. Taxpayers' money is not lost to the public. It may be reissued to the same body but with additional or new conditions attached. While a civil action is one mechanism, it is a very laborious legal route for any individual to take. In many cases, citizens are not looking for large financial compensation. They simply want a poor practice to be addressed in order that in six months' time the same concern will not arise for their neighbour or someone else. It is not appropriate that in all public bodies which are not undertakings we leave the responsibility for ensuring high standards to individuals taking on crusades or challenges in court. Individuals have taken a brave stand in the past, but there is a duty on us, as legislators, to ensure there are mechanisms in place to have proper public penalties. As identified, the commission is the appropriate place. The amendment does not contain a list of administrative fines. It simply insists on it being a measure that could be used. I imagine there will be more amendments on this issue on Report Stage and there are many ways to resolve it. I do not think the answer given is satisfactory.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Senator Alice-Mary Higgins has said all I wanted to say about fines. I agree with the Minister that we all want to see the highest standards implemented by public bodies to ensure data protection. For all of the reasons outlined by the previous speaker, nothing in the amendment would prohibit organisations from adopting the highest standards of data protection protocols and directives. It has the potential to complement and enforce them in a practical and tangible way.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan In the event that the House will divide on the amendment, I am prepared to reconsider it on the basis of what the Senators have said, but I do not want to see a circular flow of public money as conceded by Senator Alice-Mary Higgins. Let us see what we can do between now and the next Stage.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile In keeping with the charitable spirit of the night and because I have every faith in the Minister, I will withdraw the amendment and reserve the right to resubmit it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 86 not moved.

  Section 136 agreed to.

  Sections 137 and 138 agreed to.

SECTION 139

  Government amendment No. 87:

In page 114, line 22, to delete “5 years, or both” and substitute "5 years or both".

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 139, as amended, agreed to.

SECTION 140

  Government amendment No. 88:

In page 115, line 4, to delete "5 years, or both" and substitute "5 years or both".

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 89:

In page 115, line 10, to delete “5 years, or both” and substitute “5 years or both”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 140, as amended, agreed to.

  Sections 141 to 143, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 144

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I move amendment No. 90:

In page 116, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:
“(2) (a) In addition to the publication requirements contained in section 144(1), the Commission shall publish details of public authorities or public bodies that have been found to have contravened the Act.
(b) Subsection (2)(a) shall not apply to a public authority or body where the authority or body was acting as an undertaking within the meaning of the Competition Act 2002.

(c) The publications under subsection (2)(a) shall be in at least one national newspaper and in a publication circulating in the area in which the public authority or public body guilty of the contravention is situate and/or operates from.”.

I will speak briefly. My amendment seeks to ensure that in respect of a public body the publication aspect is strengthened and admonishment is put in place for a public body which is found to be in breach of the legislation. I am interested in hearing the Minister's thoughts and whether he would consider accepting the amendment.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan There is merit in the amendment It is constructive and worthy of further consideration as an alternative to the imposition of administrative fines. In effect, this is a form of public naming and shaming. With the assent of the Senator, I will come back to the amendment. I would certainly be willing to revisit the matter on Report Stage and have a look at the wording. We can revisit the amendment in a way which ensures that the point raised by the Senator is reflected in the final Bill.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 144 agreed to.

  Sections 145 to 147, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 148

  Government amendment No. 91:

In page 120, line 29, to delete “personal data,” and substitute “personal data, and”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 148, as amended, agreed to.

  Sections 149 to 154, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 155

  Government amendment No. 92:

In page 123, line 7, to delete “advisers,” and substitute “advisers, or”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Section 155, as amended, agreed to.

  Section 156 to 162, inclusive, agreed to.

  Schedules 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported with amendment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway Next Tuesday.

  Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 13 March 2018.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan When is it proposed to sit again?

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway Ar 10.30 maidin amárach.

  The Seanad adjourned at 9.05 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 March 2018.


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