Readers will remember my travails with the Irish driving system. I wrote about having to apply for an Irish Driving License and then about the mandatory driving lessons and passing the driving test. I promised myself that when it was all over I would write to the Minister for Transportation and make recommendations about how people like me could be treated respectfully and flexibly.
I’ve finally written the letter and have extracted my recommendations below. I would be interested in whether readers agree with them. I’d also love to hear your personal experiences of driving in Ireland. It’s a unique experience in many ways – I am constantly bemused by what I observe as I navigate the boreens and village streets of this part of the world.
EXTRACT FROM LETTER TO MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, TOURISM AND SPORT
There is no justification for such an inflexible approach to holders of foreign licenses. I know Ireland is committed to negotiating mutual recognition agreements with other countries over time, and that Canada may be a little more complex since licensing is handled by individual provinces, thus requiring recognition of ten provincial licenses rather than one national one. I also understand that progress is being made, but slowly.
Since my license happens to be Canadian, I will venture now to make some recommendations on an alternative approach to how holders of Canadian licenses (and by extension others) could be treated.
- Retain the requirement for the Rules of the Road test – there are enough differences to make this a good idea.
- Waive the requirement for the mandatory lessons or reduce them considerably – four lessons would be more than adequate to cover some of the idiosyncrasies of driving in Ireland.
- Waive the requirements for the Canadian license holder to apply for an Irish Learner Permit.
- If, for whatever reason this is not possible or practical, waive the regulation whereby the Learner Permit then takes precedence over the Canadian License. In practice, this allows the Canadian license holder to continue to drive on their Canadian license for a year (as they can if they do NOT apply for a Learner Permit) while preparing for the road test.
- Conduct a desk review of all ten Canadian Provincial Licensing systems. They are all easily accessible online, and fully explained. I can assure you that each province in Canada has a rigorous and comprehensive learner-driver program, but don’t take my word for it – a civil servant in your Ministry can conduct this assessment in less than a week.
- Once you have done this, immediately declare a unilateral recognition of Canadian driving licenses, as your Ministry has already done for several other countries.
The Road Safety Authority is doing a good job of raising the standards of driving in Ireland. In doing this they are battling decades of deeply-engrained negative attitudes to careful driving and to adherence to licensing regulations, especially outside the major metropolitan areas. I applaud this progress towards real change to the culture of driving in Ireland. But please, allow flexibility in how the regulations are applied so that someone with 40 years of driving experience is not treated like a beginning driver.
I wonder if I will get a response. I will let you know.
One last image…
Given the photos I’m surprised you didn’t just opt for the helicopter licence straight away. Probably would have been quicker and a lot safer.
tilting at windmills… or effecting change? hmmm
I hope that the letter was cathartic — I think I want to read the part that you did not share..
Keep fighting the good fights.
on a side note, your photos make me wonder if my Canadian license really would prepare me…?
Keep us informed. You made a great case.
Finola. There is no way a civil servant will do the work to implement your suggestions. Let’s see. Yvonne
See comment from person living in America where things still seem possible, above.
Nicely done, Finola! You are a good consumer advocate. Your letter is a textbook example of how to make a complaint in an effective way — polite, firm, detailed, and with recommendations. As you say, we will now wait to see what comes of it.
Oh ye Ministers take note – Finola will set you straight!! Good job girl!
See comment from world-weary Irish person below.