News from the Oireachtas

Kelly outlines new system for the issue of driving licences Questions regarding photo capture under the new national driver licensing service run by the Road Safety Authority were answered in the Dáil by Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly.

Kelly outlines new system for the issue of driving licences

Questions regarding photo capture under the new national driver licensing service run by the Road Safety Authority were answered in the Dáil by Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly.

Replying to Cork South Fine Gael Deputy Jim Daly, he said up to this year, driver licences were issued by the motor taxation offices of local authorities. This involved more than 30 different motor taxation offices dedicating staff and resources to the processing of driver licence applications and the issuing of licences. While everybody agrees that the staff in these offices were very committed and did excellent work, this was hardly an optimal way to organise driver licensing.

“The EU requirement to introduce a plastic card driving licence from January 2013 means there will be significant changes in the way licences are produced and provides an opportunity to review the entire system for driver licensing,” he said. “Following on from a study which examined the alternative ways in which driver licensing might be organised, the Government decided in May 2011 to move to a centralised national driver licensing service, and decided that the Road Safety Authority would be given charge of this system.”

Centralising the services offers a number of benefits over the old system, he said. It will provide for greater consistency of practice and service across the country. The creation of a single national driver licensing service will provide for greater security and, under the RSA, offer a one-stop shop to the public, from theory test to driving test to licence issue.

“It should be stressed that, while the service has been transferred from local authorities, no jobs are being lost in that area, but it means many local authority staff are being freed for redeployment and reassignment within their local authorities,” he said. “This is very beneficial at local authority level. The new service is expected to be self-financing. All of this should be very welcome in these times when we are looking for opportunities across the board to do more with less.”

2013 the year of the “Kick-out” - McGrath

The year 1913 was the year of the Lock-out and 2013 will be the year of the great Kick out, Tipperary Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath told the Dáil.

“That is what the Government is doing - putting people out of their homes - and it should be ashamed,” he said. “I read an article in a newspaper which detailed how a couple were locked into their home in Dublin, near the Minister’s house. A bunch of heavies boarded up the house with galvanised steel while they were inside with a small child. What next, Minister? Is there no new low to which the Labour Party will sink? The party has now become not the mud guard but the mud flap and the mud is sticking.”

After all of the Government’s bluster, reports and examinations, eight times fewer people will be exempt from the property tax this year, he said.

“I can only speak for South Tipperary, where none of the unfinished estates has been completed,” he said. “We did not get enough money from the Government even to put up hoardings around them to make them safe. This is a total farce. People are reading that if they are struggling with their mortgages, they will have to give up their health cover and their second car in order to do a deal with their bank. People are hearing that the lenders are going to get tough.”

He asked Minister Pat Rabbitte, who was taking the Order of Business, when he was going to look after the ordinary people and stop putting them into penury?

“Will he allow them to have their second car to bring their children to school or does he want their children to remain uneducated,” he asked.

In reply, Minister Rabitte said he felt like the people of South Tipperary after that because he, too, was bewildered.

“I am very hurt that Deputy McGrath should make such charges against me and the Government. The fact of the matter is we are trying to protect ordinary people. Some colleagues representing Dublin constituencies would say that people from South Tipperary and other provincial constituencies get a better deal under the valuation system than Dubliners. However, there had to be a valuation methodology settled on and the one chosen is based on market value. It is right that the efficacy of the collection system should not be in question and that everybody who is able to make a contribution does so. There is a system of voluntary deferral for those who cannot make a contribution as well as a system of exemptions.”