Broadband issues make online licence plan difficult

March 2nd, 2022 7:10 AM

By Brian Moore

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PEOPLE who need to renew their driving licence can no longer just ‘walk in’ to the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centre in Skibbereen.

Junior Transport Minister Hildegarde Naughten announced that the walk-in service at NDLS centres across the country, which was suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, will not be restored and online appointments will only be acceptable from now on at the centre in Skibbereen.

She pointed out that an online service is available for all application types but stated that a ‘verified’ MyGovlD account, which requires a public services card (PSC), is needed to avail of this online service.

This new procedure means that a person must have a valid PSC before they can apply for an appointment and they must be able to access the MyGovID website.

Local independent TD Michael Collins said a number of people had contacted his office after they found it almost impossible to contact the NDLS.

‘This online only system is not working for those who can’t get online due to near non-existent broadband in many areas,’ Deputy Collins said.

‘We are getting more and more people calling to our offices seeking help filling out forms online. The government needs to understand that not everybody is comfortable navigating the internet and not everyone can even get online in rural Ireland.

‘This needs to be reversed and the walk-in system needs to be reinstated.’

Deputy Holly Cairns (SD) is also calling for the in-person service to remain.

Meanwhile,  a need to have a public service card to access the services at the NDLS has been questioned following an investigation by the Data Protection Commission (DPC) into the legality of the PSC, which found that there was no lawful basis for a person to be told they needed the card for anything other than accessing social welfare or benefits.

In 2018, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) announced that having a PSC would become mandatory for obtaining a driving licence. However, this was dropped by the then transport minister Shane Ross over legal concerns two months later.

The DPC had already been investigating the PSC project for several months over concerns about its compliance with privacy law ahead of the GDPR going live in May 2018 and it ruled that making the public service card a prerequisite for State services had ‘no lawful basis’.

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