Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Communications and Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has said the Government’s decision to outsource the National Driver Licence Service “serves the public poorly” and “further jeopardises the future of the post office network”.
The Meath East TD questioned why the government ignored the Final Report of the Post Office Network Business Development Group, which highlighted that the post office network could be used for the provision of driver licence services.
Teachta O’Rourke said:
“Our post office network is ideally placed to deliver the National Driver Licence Service.
“Staffed by committed workers skilled in the provision of public services, with ID verification equipment already in place, and comprising a network of 950 local offices. It makes total sense.
“Such a move would generate more business for post offices at a time when the Postmaster’s Union are crying out for this type of contract to ensure their future viability.
“Instead, the contract was awarded to a company with just 34 offices, who have also now removed the walk-in service for people.
“The current driver licence service is failing people.
“It’s hostile to anyone who may need extra assistance, those with a language barrier or anyone who is not computer literate.
“One frustrated constituent told me how he was refused service in an office as he had not booked online in advance, despite the office being empty at the time. He subsequently spent 101 minutes on the phone waiting to secure an appointment.
“The privatised, for-profit, provision of government services is driving down standards.
“The government frequently claim they support maintaining our post office network and want to extend their remit, but their actions say otherwise.
“The 2016 Kerr Report highlighted that the provision of driving licences should be considered as part of increasing the range of government services available through the post office network.
“Unfortunately, this was ignored, missing a great opportunity to utilise post offices for the provision of driving licences.
“There is a hypocrisy at the heart of government on the post office network. It risks the network’s future and, I believe, is completely at odds with the wishes of local communities.”