Thousands of Irish drivers are being seriously inconvenienced by a drastically misjudged decision to make driver licence renewals and applications available at only 34 new sites countrywide, according to the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU).
From Oct 29 many drivers will have to travel long distances to renew their licences and apply for new ones using the new identity verification technology. There are just 34 centres where this can be done as opposed to Post Offices as provided for under the tender submission of An Post.
The President of the IPU, Ciaran McEntee, said: “by seriously limiting the number driving licence centres instead of using Post Offices, the Government has once again indicated that there is a total disconnect between Government Policy and Government action. The Government says it is strongly committed to sustaining the Post Office and yet its actions are at total variance with that policy.
“There are just 34 centres from Monday Oct 25 and of these two counties are served with one full time and one part time office. Imagine Mayo drivers being serviced by offices in just Castlebar and far-away Belmullet? Just imagine the travelling involved in Cork where the offices are as far apart as Cork City and Skibbereen?. And elderly drivers have to renew their licences more frequently, thus increasing the travel time and inconvenience.
“The National Driving Licence Service says that 95% of the population will be within a 50km radius of a centre. However, in stark contrast, the An Post plan would have ensured that 98% of the population were within a 20km radius of a centre. Thus increased customer access and convenience resulting in a reduction in customer travel and waiting time in providing driving licences and renewals.”
Mr. McEntee also pointed out that under the An Post proposal all the electronic and physical documentation authentification, live photography, scanning of photographs and integration with payment systems would have been available in the fully automated Post Offices.
He pointed out that the Post Office already has a successful partnership with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government where all first time passport and renewals are sent through Passport Express. Customers and the Department have expressed great satisfaction at the convenience and quality of service offered at their local Post Office.
“Motor Tax and Driving licence renewals are two further examples were business partnerships should be formed with An Post to deliver these services to all communities. According to an IPU commissioned report by Grant Thornton the renewal of Motor Tax through the Post Office would generate taxpayer savings of €60m,” he said.
Mr. McEntee claimed that the Government’s actions took no account of the needs of all communities in this country. “It is more of the mismatch we have previously experienced between Government Departments. Are these people not even taking to each other, ensuring some cohesion on policies that affect the lives of thousand of Irish people.
“We now call on the Government to immediately engage in a review process that will lead to a vastly increased number of centres where people can renew their licences. Post Offices already provide services such as Passport renewals, banking transactions, fraud prevention, and annually deal with 1.7m customers.. They should also be involved in driver licence renewals.”