November 16 - O’Donovan suggests drivers licence outreach centres

Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan told the Dáil he had received evidence from the rural part of his constituency that there were delays of up to four and a half hours at the Limerick car licence processing centre.

Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan told the Dáil he had received evidence from the rural part of his constituency that there were delays of up to four and a half hours at the Limerick car licence processing centre.

The Department and the Road Safety Authority might argue there are teething issues with the introduction of the new system, as there always are, he said.

“Dromcollogher in my constituency is 69 km from Tralee and 50 km from Limerick, and Limerick is 102 km from Tralee,” he said.

“That distance traverses open spaces containing rural dwellers who find it difficult to access centres as currently proposed in both Limerick and Tralee. The other option is Cork city, which is even further away.”

He said the centres are in urban areas with heavy footfall, but for people in rural constituencies and those who are not used to driving into cities such as Limerick, with the Parkway shopping centre, it is proving difficult to get to them.

“We know that suggestions were made to people in advance of the transition to the credit-card-type licence to hold off from applying for the licence,” he said.

“Others applied but did not have a licence issued under the last system. Those two categories of person are now in limbo, and it appears that large groups of people are potentially unlicensed.”

“I ask that the Road Safety Authority consider the amount of available space currently unoccupied within local authorities and other State agencies to see if outreach offices could be provided, particularly in larger counties.”

In reply, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he had met CEO of the RSA about the matter and will meet him again in the next few weeks.

“I will certainly pass on Deputy O’Donovan’s concerns,” he said. “It is the case that the number of staff provided did not match the demand. The demand was more than anticipated and as a result in the first week there were not enough staff. The issue is now being resolved. That said, I accept Deputy O’Donovan’s basic point that 5% of the population is 250,000 people and they do not have an office proximate to them but there might be potential solutions.

“One solution could be to provide more part-time centres such as the Deputy mentioned. An alternative solution which could be examined would be a mobile centre that could travel to various parts of the country and in particular to isolated areas.”

Far too few personal insolvency practitioners appointed - Collins

There is a question mark over the appointment of personal insolvency practitioners who numbered so few at the outset of the service, Deputy Niall Collins told the Dáil.

During Question Time, he asked Justice Minister Alan Shatter the anticipated number of cases to be completed by the personal insolvency regime by the end of 201 and the total number of personal insolvency practitioners appointed to date.

In reply, Minister Shatter said as of November 1, 72 personal insolvency practitioners are currently authorised by the Insolvency Service of Ireland, ISI. In addition, as of the same date, 18 Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS, companies, representing 47 individuals, are authorised to act as approved intermediaries.

“The location and contact details of approved intermediaries and personal insolvency practitioners are publicly available on the relevant registers on the ISI’s website,” he said. “It is expected that the number of authorised approved intermediaries and personal insolvency practitioners will increase further over the coming months.”

It might be noted, he added, that the ISI has added a statistics page to its website which provides key information such as the number of approved practitioners, the number of information requests to the ISI and associated pertinent information. “I am advised that the statistics page will be updated on a monthly basis and I would encourage Deputies to consult that page in order to get the latest information,” he said.

Deputy Collins said that with only 72 personal insolvency practitioners operating, the service is wholly inadequate. “If one averages that out across the counties of Ireland, that amounts to only three personal insolvency practitioners per county,” he said. “There are approximately 120,000 mortgages in arrears of more than 90 days and there is another large cohort of people who are struggling with personal debt. Red C published some interesting statistics in StubbsGazette recently, which estimated that up to 25,000 people will seek to avail of the service. It is wholly inadequate.”