Future of Port’s Data Protection office ‘is safe’

editorial image
The future of the Data Protection Office in Portarlington is safe, according to Minister for Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan.

The future of the Data Protection Office in Portarlington is safe, according to Minister for Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan.

Minister Flanagan said he sought assurances for the future of the Port office following the recent announcement that the Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, will establish an additional office in Dublin.

“I sought assurances from Ms Dixon regarding the future of the office in Portarlington. The public have been well served by the professionalism of the staff located there. I am anxious, as a local public representative, to ensure that the opening of an additional office in Dublin will not have any adverse effect on staffing arrangements or resources for the Portarlington office,” Minister Flanagan said.

He said he was anxious, as a local public representative, to ensure that the opening of an additional office in Dublin will not have any adverse effect on staffing arrangements or resources for the Portarlington office.

“I am pleased that following my representations to her, Ms Dixon has assured me that the Portarlington office will remain as a vital element in ensuring that the Data Protection Commissioner can best deliver on its statutory remit.”

Helen Dixon was appointed as Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner last month, succeeding Billy Hawkes who had held the role since 2005.

From it’s office in Port, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner charged with regulating some of the world’s largest internet companies including Facebook and Google who have their European Headquarters based here in Ireland.

As a result, it is expected that their current €1.7million is expected to increase by two-thirds or more.

Labour Senator, John Whelan said the Government must properly resource the Port office.

“Recent serious and high profile breaches of data protection and wrongful use of personal information such as PPS numbers underline the urgent need to ensure that the office of the Data Protection Commissioner is adequately supported and resourced,” he said.

Senator Whelan said the Data Protection Commissioner had fulfilled their remit in exemplary fashion from their decentralised headquarters, however, he said the scale, scope and extent of the challenges and workload facing the office since it was first constituted in 1989 have grown enormously.

“Therefore I believe it is necessary for the Government to review the legislative infrastructure that supports and sustains the work of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, to establish if it is still fit for purpose and sufficiently robust and comprehensive.”

With a staff of just 30, Senator Whelan said the Commissioner’s office may well require additional personnel and resources to address an ever expanding workload and broadening remit.