Local Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, has called on Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, to take urgent action in relation to addressing the backlog of people waiting for both the driver theory test and driving tests.
“I have met my colleague Hildegarde Naughton, who is a Junior Minister in Transport, to discuss this issue and she understands the urgency that is needed to rectify this matter. I have also contacted Minister Eamon Ryan and his officials on a number of occasions and he has outlined that remedial action is being taken and in-person driver theory test centres have opened as of Monday, June 7.
“I understand this network of 40 test centres will have capacity of 25,000 tests per month but this is not enough to cope with demand – there have been 120,000 customers booked in to take a test and who have been waiting now several months. I have had dozens of constituents contact me to advise their test had been scheduled and cancelled on more than one occasion, and this is stopping them from seeking employment and accessing vital services.
“Prior to Covid-19, 15,000 tests were taken per month so I welcome the increase in capacity, noting Minister Naughton has outlined that the plan is to gradually increase to 50,000 tests per month if public health guidance permits. This is a vital service so I believe we must pull out the stops, while taking all precautionary measures and ramp up the tests while observing social distancing. It can and must be done. If we are re-opening society and encouraging people to seek new employment, we must facilitate them to do this.
“Furthermore, we need to get back to driving tests for all workers, not just those deemed essential. Again, people are being limited in employment opportunities, educational opportunities and access to basic services as they need their driving license before they can drive alone. They also need to take lessons, and instructors must be advised how best to safely carry these out. At present, only essential workers can get tested, even if you are vaccinated which is hugely limiting.
“From speaking to Minister Naughton, I understand they hope to address these issues in the next round of announcements to commence early July. I have urged her to be cognisant of the thousands waiting on a test in order to re-engage with society and be able to lead fulfilling lives after a terrible year. In rural constituencies in particular, if you are not allowed drive you are confined and your independence is greatly limited.
“When driving tests come back fully, I have been assured tests will be prioritised for those who have been waiting the longest. An additional 40 driving testers will be available from next month, and the department and RSA will keep the situation under review. I continue to urge Government colleagues to prioritise investment into this service over the coming weeks and months,” Deputy Burke asserted.