Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Irish Solution

I have blogged on Irish Solutions before and I couldn't resist adding this very current one.

At present there are some 400,000 drivers in Ireland on provisional licences. This means they have either not taken or have failed a driving test.

Those on their 1st, 3rd and later provisional licences are supposed to be accompanied at all times by a fully licenced driver. The exception for 2nd Provisionals is presumably a concession to the big back log in driver testing.

The Minister has now announced a new régime which will effectively mean (i) enforcing the existing law for those currently on 1st, 3rd and later provisionals and (ii) introducing the accompaniment condition for those on 2nd provisionals - ALL AT A FEW DAYS NOTICE.

While the change is entirely logical and worthy of support, its abrupt introduction is unfair to many who depend on driving to get to work, or to ferry patients to hospital or children to school.

The authorities have to take some responsibility for allowing a situation to develop where there are 400,000 people driving around unaccompanied on provisional licences.

The current waiting time for a test is 6 months and expected to be down to 2 months by next March (ie in 5 month's time).The changes in the law, and in enforcement, should have been announced sufficiently in advance for all concerned to have had an opportunity to take the test after the announcement but before it came into effect. The deadline of days in this case is very much shorter than that offered to those who availed of the tax amnesty!

In response to the public backlash the Minister has now said the Gardaí will implement the changes with discretion. Another Irish solution to an Irish problem. The Government simply passes the buck to another institution. The more usual case is where the Government fails to legislate and cravenly leaves it to the courts to sort out the mess.

The present débacle puts the Gardaí in an impossible position. It's all very well being part of the solution, but ...

Nevertheless, it is just as well we live in a democracy and politicians have to have some regard to the views of the people. Imagine what they would be up to if they were left to their own devices!

1 comment:

Póló said...

It now appears that the Minister, in response to pressure, has decided to postpone the inrtroduction of the accompaniment provision for 2nd provisionals until next June, by which time, they will all have had the opportunity to have done the test and acquired full licences.

This is to be welcomed.

As far as I can see, this does not, however, sort out those driving unaccompanied on other provisional licences and those on 2nd provisionals which expire between now and June. These latter will be obliged to apply for Learner licences which will carry the accompaniment condidition.

Perhaps the Minister has covered this elsewhere or is praying for Garda "enlightenment".