This Privacy Notice (the “Notice”) provides you with information regarding the personal data about you which is held by the Office of the Ombudsman (the “Ombudsman”).
The Ombudsman fully respects your right to privacy. Your personal data will be treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (“Data Protection Legislation”).
This Notice uses certain terms which have a particular meaning under Data Protection Legislation. See the Definitions section of the Notice for an explanation or definition of the relevant terms.
The Ombudsman examines complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain public bodies, for example, government departments, local authorities, the HSE and publicly funded third level education bodies.
The Ombudsman also examines complaints about failures by public bodies to provide accessible buildings, services and information, as required under Part 3 of the Disability Act 2005.
The Ombudsman collects and processes personal information known as person data when carrying out its role and functions as provided under the Ombudsman Act 1980, as amended and its associated statutory instruments. For the purpose of the Data Protection Legislation, the Ombudsman is the data controller of your personal data.
Certain ‘in house’ services or facilities are jointly shared by the Ombudsman and the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Commissioner for Environmental Information, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Referendum Commission and the Office of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner. These services include accommodation, finance, human resources, communications, legal and information technology (ICT). The Ombudsman and the Office of the Ombudsman is a joint controller in so far as personal data relating to such shared services is concerned.
We may be contacted at:
Office of the Ombudsman, incorporating the Ombudsman and the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Commissioner for Environmental Information, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Referendum Commission and the Office of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner.
Postal address: 6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773
Telephone: (01) 639 5600
You may exercise your rights by contacting our Data Protection Officer.
Postal Address: 6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773.
The Data Protection Officer is designated for the Office of the Ombudsman, which incorporates the Ombudsman, the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Commissioner for Environmental Information, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Referendum Commission and the Office of the Protected Disclosures Commissioner.
The personal data we hold and where it comes from will depend on the type of interaction you have with the Ombudsman.
A large amount of the personal data which we hold about you is provided by you in your phone calls, letters, emails or other communications with the Ombudsman.
We also hold your personal data where it has been provided by someone else or by someone on your behalf, known as third parties or representatives, respectively. Further details on this are provided below.
We hold information (personal data) about people who contact the Ombudsman. This personal data includes, for example, your name and contact details, details relating to the purpose of your contact and any other personal data which you provide.
We hold personal data about people who make a complaint to the Ombudsman about a public service provider. This personal data includes, for example, your name, contact details, details relating to your complaint, and any other personal data which you provide. It can also include special categories of personal data you provide, for example data concerning health.
In examining your complaint, we also collect personal data about you from public bodies or other persons. For example, the provider of the public service will be asked to provide us with records relevant to the decision or action which is the subject of your complaint and this may contain personal data, including special category personal data.
We hold personal data about representatives who make enquiries or who make complaints on behalf of someone else. This data includes your name, contact details and details relating to the representative capacity or relationship with the person on whose behalf you are making the complaint. It also includes any other personal data which you provide. Such personal data may also be included in information received from the public service provider or other person involved in a complaint.
Where personal data is about a person who did not make the complaint, we call that person a ‘third party’.
As a third party, your personal data can be contained in the records provided by the public service provider in relation to a complaint. Personal data about you, including special category person data, could also be contained in other documents which the Ombudsman receives, such as submissions, letters or emails.
The Ombudsman has the power to carry out an investigations of a broader nature either on his own initiative or arising out of complaints received. In the course of such an investigation records of the public body, containing personal data will be accessed by the Ombudsman and may also be contained in submissions received by us from public service providers. This personal data could be wide ranging and include special category personal data depending on the nature of the investigation.
When someone visits www.ombudsman.ie we collect standard internet log information and details of visitor behaviour patterns. We do this for statistical purposes to find out things such as the number of visitors to the various parts of the Ombudsman website.
We collect this information in a way which does not identify anyone. We do not make any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting our website. We will not associate any data gathered from this site with any personally identifying information from any source.
We are part of Government Networks, which connects public service agencies on a data, voice and video capable network. Any email sent to us, including any attachments, may be monitored and processed by us for security purposes. Email monitoring or blocking software may also be used.
Please be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you send to us is within the bounds of the law.
We hold personal data about people who make statutory requests to the Ombudsman, including for example, people who make a Freedom of Information (“FOI”) request, a request under the AIE Regulations or a data access request looking for records or information from the Ombudsman, or an access request under Access to Information on the Environment(AIE) Regulations. The personal data held includes your name and contact details and information relating to the statutory request you have made.
A statutory request made to the Ombudsman could also include personal data about someone other than the person making the request. Whether they contain personal data and, if so, the type of personal data will depend on the request. This information comes from the person making the request.
We hold personal data about staff of public service providers in relation to their handling of complaints. The personal data includes the name, contact details, grade/role and information relating to the performance of their functions. This personal data comes from the public service provider or the complainant and includes personal data in the records sought in communications with the Ombudsman.
We also hold data about Ombudsman Liaison Officers or other officials in public service providers. This includes the name, contact details and grade/role within the organisation of each official. This data has been provided by the official, his/her organisation or has been obtained from publicly available sources (such as the organisation’s website).
We hold personal data where there has been contact between you and the Ombudsman in relation to various matters, including contact regarding the provision of goods or services or invitations to the Ombudsman’s office to make presentations, seminars, or attend conferences. Personal data held includes your name, contact details and information relating to the goods or services, the seminar, conference etc. The personal data is obtained from your interactions with us.
We ask all visitors to sign in and out at reception for security and safety reasons. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) operates in public areas of the building for security purposes.
We have Wi-Fi on site for the use of visitors. We provide the address and password. We record the device address and automatically allocate an IP address whilst on site. We log traffic information in the form of sites visited, duration and date sent/received. We don’t ask you to agree to terms, just to the fact that we have no responsibility or control over your use of the internet while you are on site, and we don’t ask you to provide any of your information to get this service.
When the Office hosts webinars or video conferences, it will require the name, contact number and email address of attendees to facilitate their attendance. Delegate lists will not be published by the Office but attendees' names may be visible to others during the event. We request that attendees use their work contact information where possible, to avoid the unnecessary collection of personal contact details. Similarly, attendees should avoid sharing personal data in any shared ‘chat’ facility as that data may be processed by the service provider.
The Office may record webinars for information purposes. It will provide advance notification when an event is being recorded. Recorded events capture the image and audio of any presenters. Attendees may have the option of sharing their image and audio during the session. If they choose to do so, this will also be captured in the recording. Where events feature a moderated Q&A, attendees who choose to interact with the Q&A may have their comments published and viewed by others at the event and they will also form part of the recording.
We have described above all the main categories of people whose personal data we hold. We can hold data about people who do not fall within these categories. For example, from time to time we hold personal data about people attending meetings or events with the Office. We confirm that all personal data is treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality, in accordance with the Data Protection legislation.
We process your personal data so that the Ombudsman can carry out his functions under the Ombudsman Act 1980, as amended and the Disability Act, 2005.
In most circumstances this is in order for the Ombudsman to consider a complaint.
The Ombudsman does not use automated individual decision making (i.e. making a decision solely by automated means without any human involvement) or profiling (i.e. automated processing of personal data to evaluate certain things about an individual).
In legal terms, our use of personal data is:
The Ombudsman has the power to require persons to provide certain information. Where the Ombudsman exercises this power, there is a statutory obligation to provide the information sought, and compliance can be enforced through the Circuit Court.
We also hold information about you for the purpose of responding to statutory requests made to the Office (such as access requests under the FOI Act 2014, Data Protection legislation, and the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations). Doing this is necessary for compliance with the Office’s legal obligations.
We use the mailing list of people we communicate with in order to inform them of publications, current developments and other matters of interest. We will send you such communications if you consent to us doing so. If you wish to be removed from this list, please let us know and we will remove you from the list without delay.
We also compile and publish statistics showing information like the number of complaints we receive, however, no personal data is contained in such statistics.
In investigating a complaint about a public service provider body or in carrying out any of the other functions of the Ombudsman, we share personal data. For example, when looking at the actions of a public service provider, we will need to share information with that body and possibly with other relevant bodies. We share it with your representative, if you have nominated one and have given your consent.
Depending on your interaction with the Ombudsman, we share your personal data with the appropriate public service provider(s)); your representative; any affected third parties; original complainants; legal representatives of the Ombudsman and the courts. Such personal data is only shared where necessary for the performance of our functions.
On occasion, where necessary, we share your information with service providers, including, for example, translators. The transfer will be done within the requirements of the Data Protection Legislation.
We may publish the details of cases handled by the Ombudsman in its Annual Report, the Ombudsman’s Casebook, an Investigation Report, or elsewhere. We do not identify any complainants, unless the details have already been made public, or the complainant explicitly consents to being identified.
The Office of the Ombudsman shares resources with the Ombudsman, the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Commissioner for Environmental Information, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, and the Referendum Commission. These services include accommodation, finance, human resources, communications, legal and information technology (ICT).
Due to the shared ICT resource, a limited amount of your personal data (your contact details only) can be processed by the other bodies listed above.
The Ombudsman will not ordinarily transfer personal data outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or third countries with an adequacy decision unless, for example, we are corresponding with a customer or person related to an enquiry or complaint who resides overseas. In the event that this position changes, the Ombudsman will comply with its obligations under Article 46 of GDPR by adopting one of the appropriate measures approved by the Data Protection Commission and the European Commission to ensure that such transfers are lawful.
The personal information you have provided will be processed by the Ombudsman for the purposes outlined in the Notice and will be kept according to our retention policy. The retention policy sets out the time periods for how long information is kept by the Ombudsman for different purposes, and as a result of our legal requirements. The length of time we hold your personal data for will depend on the type of document or record which contains the personal data however, in general we will not hold your personal data for longer than three years.
You have certain rights under Data Protection Legislation. Your rights are:
Your right of access
You have the right to ask us for copies of your personal information. This right always applies. There are some exemptions, which means you may not always receive all the information we process.
Your right to rectification
You have the right to ask us to rectify information you think is inaccurate. You also have the right to ask us to complete information you think is incomplete.
Your right to erasure
You have the right to ask us to erase your personal information in certain circumstances.
Your right to restriction of processing
You have the right to ask us to restrict the processing of your information in certain circumstances.
Your right to object to processing
You have the right to object to processing of your personal data under certain circumstances. If your personal data is held by us on the basis of your consent, you have the right to withdraw that consent at any time.
Your right to data portability
You have the right to request that personal data be given to you or another person in a transferable or machine readable form.
Your right to object to automated decision making
You have the right to object to automated individual decision making (i.e. making a decision solely by automated means without any human involvement) and profiling (i.e. automated processing of personal data to evaluate certain things about an individual). The Ombudsman does not make any decisions using wholly automated means.
Data controllers are entitled to rely on certain exemptions, which may have an impact on any rights request that you may make. These exemptions are set out in Data Protection legislation. The Ombudsman is also entitled to apply restrictions as provided by S.I. No. 221/2022 - Data Protection Act 2018 (Section 60(6)) (Office of the Ombudsman) Regulations 2022.
S.I. No.221/2022 provides that the rights and obligations in Articles 12 to 22 and Article 34, and Article 5 (in so far as any of its provisions correspond to the rights and obligations in Articles 12 to 22), of the General Data Protection Regulation, are restricted to the extent that is necessary to safeguard a relevant objective, and proportionate to the need to safeguard the relevant objective, including, but not limited to, where the exercise of the right or compliance with the obligation, as the case may be:
(i) may interfere with -
(ii) would disclose that the Ombudsman is exercising a function in pursuit of a relevant objective, where such disclosure may prejudice the achievement of the relevant objective, or
(iii) would prevent the Ombudsman processing personal data for a period of time, where such delay to the processing may prejudice the achievement of a relevant objective.
Matters which are relevant in determining whether a restriction of a right or obligation is necessary and proportionate for the purposes of safeguarding a relevant objective, include but are not limited to -
Where a right or obligation is restricted, we will clearly explain the reason(s) why and what impact it may have on your rights request.
If you would like to exercise any of your rights, please contact the Data Protection Officer:
Postal address: 6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773
We try to meet the highest standards when collecting and processing personal information. If you have a query or complaint about the use of your personal information by the Ombudsman, the Data Protection Officer is available to assist you in the first instance.
You also have the right to lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Commission. The Data Protection Commission can be contacted at:
Telephone: (0761) 104 800; Lo-Call 1890 25 22 31.
Postal Address: 21 Fitzwilliam Square South, Dublin 2, D02 RD28.
Consent of the data subject means any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject's wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.
Controller means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data; where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by Union or Member State law, the controller or the specific criteria for its nomination may be provided for by Union or Member State law.
Data Protection Act 2018 Amongst other things, this Act gives further effect to the GDPR (see below) in areas where Member State flexibility is permitted. The Act is available online.
Data Protection Officer GDPR requires some organisations to designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO). Article 39 of the GDPR states that the data protection officer “shall have at least the following tasks:
1.to inform and advise the controller or the processor and the employees who carry out processing of their obligations pursuant to this Regulation and to other Union or Member State data protection provisions;
2.to monitor compliance with this Regulation, with other Union or Member State data protection provisions and with the policies of the controller or processor in relation to the protection of personal data, including the assignment of responsibilities, awareness-raising and training of staff involved in processing operations, and the related audits;
3.to provide advice where requested as regards the data protection impact assessment and monitor its performance pursuant to Article 35;
4.to cooperate with the supervisory authority;
5.to act as the contact point for the supervisory authority on issues relating to processing, including the prior consultation referred to in Article 36, and to consult, where appropriate, with regard to any other matter.”
Data Subject means the identified or identifiable natural person to whom the personal data relates – see also the definition of personal data below.
The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is an EU Regulation relating to data protection which came into force on 25 May 2018. The Regulation is available online.
Joint Controller. Where two or more controllers (see above) jointly determine the purposes and means of processing, they are joint controllers.
Personal Data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.
Processing means any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.
Special Categories of Personal Data means personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person's sex life or sexual orientation.
This Privacy Notice was updated in November 2022.