KILKENNY -- I passed through Dublin Airport four times during the past nine weeks without requisite photo identification. I need a National Immigration ID card to stay in Ireland. Because of a creaky infrastructure system in the regions, I have not been able to get an ID card through my local Garda station since mid-May. As part of a national ID card scheme, millions of Irish would need the ID cards too. I suspect that all of us would join a queue to get them. I know that even if everyone living in Ireland had a digitised photograph on an ID card that terrorism would not decrease. So why is Ireland following Britain in the ID card stakes? And whose money will be poured down this black hole?
In my case, my non-Irish surname probably makes me a cultural or economic threat to native Irish. That's why every year I need to ask permission from the Irish government to continue living in the house I bought, to hold onto the job I earned, to be permitted to care for the three stray Irish animals I keep, and to continue forking over more than 40% of my monthly wages to the Irish Exchequer.
I simply do not understand why the Garda National Immigration Bureau does not have a comprehensive photographic database of potential threats like myself. In front page news today, Barry O'Kelly and Pat Leahy claim "50 Irish al-Qaeda sympathisers identified" but if those 50 who are monitored receive the same kind of lackadasical treatment as me and my non-existent photo ID card, I have little faith in the system.
If the current government rams ID cards down the throats of an uninformed populace, all they will generate is a massive (and largely unmonitored) expense tab. The back-end infrastructure of the Irish crime prevention system is woefully inadequate for the task of collating facial recognition metadata and data-mining the results from CCTV cameras.
Make no mistake about it: national ID cards do not prevent terrorism. However, they are a low-hanging cherry for tens of millions of eurothat would be paid over to teams of IT consultants who would do a better job than the Garda National Immigration Bureau. And ID cards will instantly spin off all sorts of other money-earners (think "Hot or Not" in a grand scale) because of the lack of data protection (privacy) safeguards in place. If you thought electronic voting was a bomb, you'll love the reverberations national ID cards will make.
Barry O'Kelly and Pat Leahy -- "Irish ID cards planned after London atrocity" at the top of The Sunday Business Post, July 10, 2005.
John Burke and Kevin Rafter -- "Gardai give files on 40 al-Qaeda suspects to British Police" on the front page of the Sunday Tribune, July 10, 2005.