Data Protection Commissioner
Data Protection Commissioner

 Data Protection Commissioner’s Priorities for 2016

Helen Dixon highlights focus on recruitment and increased public sector compliance on Data Protection Day

Speaking on the 10th Annual Data Protection Day Commissioner Helen Dixon set out her priorities for 2016:

“A key priority is the continued expansion of resources at the Irish data protection authority including the further recruitment of legal and technical specialists, to add to our strong team. Our staff now includes expert lawyers, an investigations specialist, security technology specialists, a communications head, complaints investigators and an audit specialist. Already, we are seeing huge benefits from the additional staffing, particularly in delivering faster resolutions for complainants. Another critical round of recruitment is shortly to commence, with the assistance of the Public Appointments Service, seeking further IT and technical compliance specialists."

The Commissioner also highlighted other priorities for the office, saying "There is a clear need for better compliance by the Irish public sector. In particular, the legislative process must be improved to ensure greater deliberation and scrutiny of issues that interfere with the fundamental right to data protection. Data protection is a fundamental right, protected by the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and our own national legislation. It is not, however, an absolute right, and in certain circumstances, must yield to other competing rights. Striking the appropriate balance between these competing rights is difficult. Importantly, because data protection is a fundamental right, any interference with these rights by a public body must generally be provided for by law. More than that, it must be proportionate, necessary and made in furtherance of recognised and stated objectives of general interest or the need to protect the rights of others. Consideration must be given to all of these matters when drafting legislation."

Ms. Dixon’s other priorities include the establishment of a permanent Dublin base for the Office on Fitzwilliam Square (temporary location now on Harcourt Road) to complement the existing location in Portarlington, a series of targeted technical audits, a complete overhaul of the Office's website: and ongoing relationship building with European Article 29 Working Party peers.

28 January 2016


Data Protection – your fundamental right to privacy

The Commissioner is responsible for protecting the rights of individuals as data subjects and enforcing the relevant obligations upon data controllers. Appointed by Government, the Commissioner is independent in the exercise of his or her functions. Individuals who feel their rights are being infringed can complain to the Commissioner, who will investigate the matter, and take whatever steps may be necessary to resolve it.

The Office was first established in 1989 in Dublin, relocated to Portarlington, Co Laois in 2006 under a government decentralisation programme, and now operates from two locations.

A Government Decision at the end of 2014 enabled the Commissioner to open her Dublin Office, which is temporarily located at Harcourt Road in Dublin and will move to a permanent location on Fitzwilliam Square in 2016.

The doubling of the Office's budget to €3.65m for 2015 facilitated the recruitment of new staff including legal, technical, audit and communications specialists as well as policy and administrative staff. A number of the existing specialists in the legal, technology, investigations and audit roles continue to be based in Portarlington, along with policy and administrative teams. The headcount of the Office now stands at 50.

The further funding of over €1.1m allocated in Budget 2016, bringing our 2016 allocation to over €4.7m, will allow for additional recruitment of specialists throughout the coming year, continuing to increase resources for the various functions of the Office including awareness, investigations, audits and compliance-related matters.

The role and functions of the Data Protection Commissioner are as set out in the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.