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Mother fails in bid to remove ‘666’ from baby’s number

19 February 2016

ROSENBACH MUSEUM AND LIBRARY

Fearful image: William Blake's pen, ink and watercolour, The Number of the Beast is 666 (c. 1805)

Fearful image: William Blake's pen, ink and watercolour, The Number of the Beast is 666 (c. 1805)

A MOTHER from Limerick City who had been lobbying the Department of Social Protection to see whether her baby’s Personal Social Security Number (PPS) could be changed because it contains the digits 666 has failed in her attempt to have it altered.

The case, which is understood to be the first of its kind in the history of the Irish State, was taken on “religious grounds”, and was brought to the attention of her parliamentary representative, Willie O’Dea TD. It was listed in the Dáil under written answers just before the House rose in dissolution for the General Election last week.

The appellant had asked whether it would be possible to change the baby’s PPS number to omit the digits 666 because of its connotations of the devil and “the mark of the beast”. The number 666 is the “number of the beast” in Revelation 13.

A spokesperson for Mr O’Dea said that the woman “felt uncomfortable with her child having this number in a negative way” and had sought a response from the Department for Social Protection on three occasions since December last. The TD had subsequently put in a parliamentary question to get a definitive response.

“The woman is not particularly superstitious, but has more of a dislike to the associations of those digits. She has now been advised emphatically by the Department that they wouldn’t change the number, as it’s done automatically, and they don’t create designer numbers for people,” a spokesman said.

The TD’s office said that only in rare circumstances had they seen adults’ being permitted to change their PPS number — if they had changed their name by deed poll, for example. The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, said that a PPS number was the individual’s unique reference number for all dealings with government departments and public bodies.

“PPS numbers are automatically allocated to children born in the State once the birth is registered within three months of the date of birth. The number allocated is randomly selected from the series of numbers available. In general, PPS numbers are only changed where a person’s number has been compromised,” Ms Burton said.

Coincidentally, the last three digits of Mr O’Dea’s mobile number are also 666.

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