The Minister for Finance has been criticised by Sinn Féin for his decision not to attend the Oireachtas Finance Committee next week to discuss his role in relation to the Public Services Card.

Minister Paschal Donohoe wrote a letter to the chair of the committee to say that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the matter when the Government is appealing the findings of the Data Protection Commissioner.

The Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, has ordered government departments to delete data on citizens which is not related to welfare services.

The Government is fighting the decision.

In the letter, the minister remains a champion of the card, writing; "The Public Services Card Project continues to provide a legal means by which the public can access government services in the most efficient, effective and secure means possible, either in person or online."

He also said he supports the view of Minister Regina Doherty that she cannot withdraw or modify the use of the card or the data processes that underpin it, "following careful consideration and legal advices".

Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, said Minister Donohoe's stance does not engender trust. "In his letter the minister states that it could be unlawful to follow the recommendations of the Commissioner, and instead supports the Government decision to challenge the Data Protection Commissioner in the courts," he said.

"None of this strengthens public trust, as the Government plans to defy the regulator. This is especially the case when the Data Protection Commissioner has now become the chief regulator of European big tech."

The minister wrote that his interests lie in "the judicious use of the public finances". Deputy Doherty said this rings hollow when Government now plans to use the public's taxes to fund the Department's challenge, and the regulator's defence, in the courts. 

"And all for a botched scheme that has cost the taxpayer €60 million to date," he said.

"We would call on the minister to come before the committee and face the committee, whose interests lie in the judicious scrutiny of Government."