Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has called on the outgoing Minister for Transport Shane Ross to publish his Department’s plans for the return of driving tests.

Teachta Crowe said that, like many of his constituents, he is sick to the teeth of his constituency topping waiting lists numbers for services of all kinds and believes that, because of poor connectivity, a driving licence is vital.

From numerous responses to questions put to Ministers, Teachta Crowe said that Tallaght has some of the highest unemployment, greatest social and economic deprivation, the longest waiting lists for children with speech and language needs, to name but a few examples. He said that Tallaght has traditionally been ignored by Government and that this was having a devastating impact on the area.

Teachta Crowe said:

“Figures from the Road Safety Authority show a county by county breakdown of the number of people waiting for a driving test across the State.

“The latest figures show that there are 55,027 people waiting for tests across the state.

“These numbers have skyrocketed from the 20,000 reported.

“5,267 are waiting in Tallaght for a test; the highest numbers in any one area recorded across the State.

“Like many of my hard pressed constituents, I am sick to the teeth of the Dublin South West constituency topping the waiting lists numbers for access to basic and essential services. The needs of the area have been ignored by successive Governments and this is having a devastating impact on the area.

“This is evident in nearly any area you care to measure, whether it be employment, social and economic deprivation, or the waiting lists for children with speech and language needs, to name but a few examples.

“With a shortage of jobs locally and with poor connectivity to where many of the vacant posts are, a driver’s licence is vital and gives applicants an edge.

“5,267 waiting and the numbers are growing, to sit a test, upgrade or renew their licence. That is unacceptable.

“We need to hear loud and clear what the Department of Transport’s plans are and how driving lessons and driving tests can be reintroduced in a safe manner.

“Safety measures like Perspex dividing screens, PPE for instructors and testers, along with shorter driving routes all need to be examined as we move forward.

“We also need to look at how other countries are managing this issue post-COVID and see what approaches are working best.

“The outgoing Minister for Transport Shane Ross was and is clearly out of his depth, as shown by this issue and many others.

“It is inexplicable to me that driving instructors, examiners, and their unions have not been consulted or involved in planning for a post-lockdown Ireland.

“We need that type of plan on how we get over 55,000 people through their driving test in a timely and safe manner.

“Clearly, the Tallaght Centre, with the greatest backlog of applicants in any centre, needs to feature in that plan and be on top of whatever priorities that unfold.”