"THE GOVERNMENT will begin issuing hundreds of thousands of new public service cards later this year, which will be used to access State services such as welfare benefits, free travel and medical rebates. CARL O'BRIEN , Social Affairs Correspondent reports
Officials claim it will help cut out cumbersome form-filling and red tape when dealing with government departments and agencies.
However, civil liberties groups argue that the photo ID and personal information contained on the cards could form the basis of a national identity card.
The Irish Times understands that the card will initially be deployed for use by the 640,000 recipients of free travel before the end of the year.
It will ultimately replace cards used for accessing services in social welfare, revenue, health, education, agriculture and local government."