140. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice her views on the two vacant seats to fill in the Data Protection Commission; her views on whether the filling of these seats would improve the efficiency of the Commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47191/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Under the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018, the Data Protection Commission is independent in the performance of its tasks and the exercise of its powers.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government commits to ‘recognise the domestic and international importance of data protection in Ireland’ and states that the Government ‘will ensure that Ireland delivers on its responsibilities under the General Data Protection Regulation’.
The Government is very conscious of the commitment to deliver effective data protection regulation and protection of the data privacy rights of EU citizens, which is critical to the development and growth of our digital economy.
My Department continues to monitor the impact of the implementation of GDPR; the impact of any possible future regulatory changes across Europe as well as any changes within industry, in conjunction with the Data Protection Commission, to ensure that the Commission continues to have the resources required to fulfil its important, statutory obligations.
Under the Data Protection Act 2018, provision is made that the Government may determine that the Commission may consist of up to three members. I have asked my officials to consider the matter of appointing additional commissioners to the Data Protection Commission. If such a recommendation were to be made, it would require the Minister for Justice to bring that recommendation to Government for a decision.
There has been a year-on-year increase in funding for the Commission over the last five budgetary years. In Budget 2022, the Data Protection Commission vote has received an increased allocation of €4.1 million which represents a 21% increase on 2021. This brings the total allocation for the Commission to €23 million in 2022 – a six-fold increase compared to 2015.
Recognising the expanding breadth of the Commission’s regulatory role, its mission to safeguard data protection rights, and the increasing demands, I am making available this increased allocation to the Commission in 2022 to enable the recruitment of additional specialist and technical staff and to address the increasing case load and complexity of cases being faced by the Commission.