Laois learner drivers in test 'chaos' as thousands languish on huge lists

Sinn Féin TD slams Minister for lack of action

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

learner driver

Lockdown has hit learners hard with thousands on lists

More than 5,000 people are languishing on Laois learner driver waiting lists according to figures revealed by Laois-Offaly Sinn Féin who has slammed the Green Party Government Minister invovled for the 'chaos' it is causing.

Dep Brian Stanley criticised Minister Eamon Ryan for he termed was a lack of action and difficulties he has caused for those trying to learn to drive.

The Laois-based TD made the comments come after his party obtained figures which show that 1,100 people are now waiting for a Driving Test in Laois while a "staggering" 3,993 people are on the Theory Test list in the county.

Sinn Féin also revealed that the number awaiting Driving Tests in Offaly is 1,889 with Birr having 762 while 1,127 are waiting in Tullamore. The Theory Test number in Tullamore is 1,521.

This means 2,989 people are waiting for a driving test, while a further 5,514 are waiting for a theory test.

A record of 225,000 people nationally are currently waiting on a driving test or theory test.

Deputy Stanley pointed the finger of blame for the waiting list at the Green Party leader. MORE BELOW LINK.

“Last year we warned Minister Ryan his lack of preparation and planning for driving tests was going to cause chaos during 2021.

“This time last year, Sinn Féin called for additional testers to be hired to help address the growing backlog, but it took months for the Minister to grant approval for the 80 extra testers the RSA themselves requested. I raised this again in the Dáil recently. They are still not in place. In November we asked the Minister to put the theory test online, but it took until June of this year to bring in a restricted pilot scheme.’’

“Universities were able to immediately switch to online exams during the pandemic, but no action was taken by Minister Ryan on this front.

"It’s simply not good enough. These issues were foreseeable, but a lack of action and initiative from the Minister has allowed waiting lists escalate to a point never seen before.’

“The Minister seems to have been asleep at the wheel for most of the past year. He showed no interest in what was clearly becoming an enormous problem. It is predominantly young people affected by these delays, which is having a massive impact on their lives. The delays are impacting their employment opportunities and will become a major problem for many as they return to college in September.

"Young people deserve better,’’ he said.

Dep Stanley said testing and theory testing capacity must increase immediately. He said this should include the fast-track recruitment of staff, longer opening hours, and the establishment of pop-up centres where necessary.