TJ McIntyre nails the problem here:
‘Mandatory but not compulsory”. This ill-judged hair-splitting seems likely to stick to Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty in the same way that “an Irish solution to an Irish problem” and “on mature recollection” did to politicians before her. The minister used that phrase to defend against the criticism that the public services card (PSC) is being rolled out as a national ID card by stealth, without any clear legal basis or public debate. She went on to say that the PSC is not compulsory as “nobody will drag you kicking and screaming to have a card”. This is correct, but irrelevant. The Government’s strategy is one of making the PSC effectively rather than legally compulsory – by cutting off benefits such as pensions and refusing driving licences and passports unless a person registers. Whether or not the PSC is required by law is immaterial if you cannot function in society without it.