Politics

‘Ridiculous’ that cash payments not accepted at driver licence centres, say TDs


Opposition TDs have said it is “ridiculous” and “madness” that cash payments are not accepted at National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres.

They have also said post offices would be a “more accessible way” for people to receive or renew their driving licence.

The Independent Group of TDs put forward a motion in the Dáil on Wednesday calling for the resumption of walk-in services, that cash payments be accepted at centres and to discontinue the requirement of a public service card for online renewals.

Independent TD Joan Collins said the current NDLS contract was put in place in 2021 and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) awarded the contract to the Swiss company SGS which operates 34 offices, some of them part-time “over An Post which has a network of 950 post offices”.

The Dublin South Central TD said it was ridiculous that cash payments were not accepted and that “many people” only use cash, especially older people.

“I think this is a move towards a whole concept of just card payments only; it suits the banks and it suits the State,” she said.

Independent TD Michael McNamara said the NDLS walk-in services, which were temporarily suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, had been completely discontinued as part of the 2021 contract.

“I have worries about that on a variety of levels; one is that it would appear to me and I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that Covid was kind of used as a cover for the downgrading of a public service,” he said.

“But the other is the lack of a walk-in service per se because then people are still able to go to an NDLS office… but they have to make an appointment in advance, either online or ring a number.”

The Clare TD said a woman aged in her 80s in his constituency was waiting 90 minutes on the phone for an appointment and this was a “widespread problem right across the country”.

‘Failing people’

Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke said the current system was “failing people” and that one of his constituents waited 101 minutes on the phone to try and organise an appointment.

“To add further insult to injury, this is a service that has been outsourced to a private company with a limited footprint, 34 offices, at a time when this Government and the last, know absolutely full well that An Post and the Postmasters Union are crying out for this type of contract to ensure their future viability,” the Meath East TD said.

Mr O’Rourke said the post office network was “literally hanging in the balance and successive governments continue to turn their back on them”.

His party colleague Louise O’Reilly said receiving or renewing your driver’s licence should be straight forward, simple and stress free but instead it had become “complicated and very stressful for people”.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said the decision not to offer a walk-in service was made based on experience with the previous contract that “managing a non-appointment element was difficult”.

“RSA market analysis ahead of the procurement of the current service contract showed that more bids and better value for money would be attainable for an appointment only service,” she said.

“Such a service gives certainty to customers and prevents overcrowding, queuing and long waits.”

Ms Naughton said the current contract has a term of two years, up to June 2023 with possible extensions to June 2025. She said An Post tendered for the contract but were unsuccessful and the procurement process was “totally compliant” with EU and international law.

Ms Naughton said the decision to not accept cash at NDLS offices was made “after a market sounding exercise where only one potential bidder advocating accepting cash payments”.

“The decision was made after evaluating security, ad and value for money factors,” she said.

She added there was currently “a high renewal demand” for driver licences and permits due to the extensions put in place during the pandemic coming to an end. Ms Naughton said the Government would not be opposing the motion.



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