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Irish News

Rural Ireland drivers must not be left behind- McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport to reconsider his plans in relation to driving tests and says that something will have to be done to accommodate drivers in rural Ireland who are awaiting tests.

In the Dáil this week, Minister Shane Ross confirmed that Driving Tests and NCT's are not likely to return any time soon because they would be very difficult to introduce under social distancing. At the same time the Minister said that it was “inconceivable” that public transport services should not function properly in the current crisis.

“Once again, Minister Ross is happy to leave workers and drivers in Rural Ireland behind as he has no plans to recommence driving tests, yet it would be entirely “inconceivable” for him that those with public transport would have no access to their transport to and from work. Following Minister Ross' legislation last year, drivers risk having their cars confiscated without a full licence or a full licenced driver accompanying them and now they have absolutely no access to getting tested to allow them drive unaccompanied.

We are talking about young people and some older drivers, many of whom are essential and front line workers. Many have had their Essential Driver training and have been awaiting a test date before the lockdown and now they have no end date in sight.

The Department of Transport and the RSA must find imaginative solutions to allow tests continue or there must be some leniency for those awaiting tests particularly for those who have completed their Essential Driver Training.

Last years legislation was particularly onerous for rural drivers and it would not be acceptable anywhere else that workers and commuters would have no ability to get to work with no end in sight. The Minister, Department and the RSA must work urgently to at the very least put some plan in place so that drivers have a time frame for the resumption of testing. They need to think outside the box to find a way to make it work.

With a backlog of over 20,000 tests before the lockdown and all of the new drivers coming on stream, it could be next year before backlogs will be cleared and I have asked Minister Ross how he expects rural drivers with no access to public transport to get to work in the meantime. For me, it is inconceivable that they would just be left behind.” Concluded McGrath