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Laois driving licence services must be reinstated to the Council says local TD

Laois County Council General

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley says that driving licence services should be reinstated to Laois County Council.

This comes after it was revealed last week that the ‘walk-in’ facility National Drivers Learners Service in Laois Shopping Centre is to be terminated.

Minister Hildegard Naughton told the Dail: “All NDLS centres are operating as normal to the public nationwide.

“Appointments must be booked to attend an NDLS centre and are made available through the booking system online at www.ndls.ie or by telephone at 0818 919 090.

“Appointments are booked in 10 minute slots and customers can be assured of the service within their allotted time.

“The front office provider which was put in place in 2021 will no longer offer a walk-in service.”

Deputy Stanley called this a retrograde step and says that not everyone is capable of booking an appointment online.

He said: “Walk in services were understandably suspended during the pandemic.

“However, the RSA (Road Safety Association) are deliberately using Covid to downgrade services and this is not acceptable.

“The Banks received a lot of criticism over closing local branches and removing face to face services and now a Government body are doing it.

“The statement by the Minister that the people can go onto Government website which requires a Public Service Card is not on.

“Firstly, not everyone has access to online or may not have a computer, and secondly public service cards are not available to all the population.

“In any case the Data Protection Commissioner has ruled that Public Service Card does not have any legal basis for accessing State Services.

“The Government need to reinstate full walk-in services or transfer the service back to Laois County Council motor tax office, where it operated efficiently up to a few years ago.

“The other alternative which I have proposed to successive Ministers in the past is to use the local Post Office service network to issue driving licence as is the case in other jurisdictions.

“People who are not online or the elderly are entitled to have an accessible service available. Otherwise, the Government commitments regarding social inclusion are hollow.’’

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.