Inishowen motorists are driven too far for new licence

The Carndonagh Public Services Centre.
The Carndonagh Public Services Centre.

The “scandalous” distance Inishowen motorists have to travel to obtain a new driving licence is to be highlighted to the department over claims it is a ‘breach of contract’

The issue was raised the recent Inishowen Muncipal District meeting, after councillors raised concerns on a number of occasions over the fact motorists from Inishowen have to travel to Letterkenny and sometimes Donegal Town to obtain a new licence.

The facility did previously exist in the Carndonagh Public Services offices but this is no longer the case.

At last week’s Inishowen Municipal District meeting, Lynda McGavigan, of housing and corporate services, said the Department’s national driver licence service was centralised in 2014 to be run by the RSA. She said the RSA then outsourced these services and three distinct contracts are in place for Donegal until October 2018. None of these are in Inishowen.

However, a stipulation of the department’s contract with the RSA was that no person should have to drive further than 40km to access the service.

This was clearly not the case for many in Inishowen and therefore would constitute a breach of contract.

Councillor Albert Doherty said the issue was one which was “very, very important” to the people of Inishowen.

He added: “It might be delivering in reduced costings but it’s certainly not delivering for the people of Inishowen.”

Councillor Martin Farren said the fact the people of Inishowen have to travel so far was “ridiculous” and “quite scandalous.”

He added the public service centres were built to deal with services such as driving licences, adding he knew people who travelled to Letterkenny for a licence and were turned away because it was coming up to the office’s closing time.

“That’s an 80 mile round trip, it’s crazy,” he said.

He added: “Can we make the fact no-one is supposed to be travelling more than 40km an issue? That could be something we could tap into. It should never have been taken from Carndonagh in the first place. Some people have to go to Donegal town because Letterkenny is so busy.”

Colr Rena Donaghey said the service was being run by an outside agency, much like Irish Water.

She said they needed to make representations to the peninsula’s three TDs, stating it was “absolutely scandalous” the service had been taken from the Carndonagh office.

Colr Martin McDermott proposed they send a letter to the Department of Transport, outlining how the people of Inishowen have to travel more than 40km and this is a breach of contract.

Councillor Martin Farren said the issue highlighted how “people are sitting in an office in Dublin and don’t realise where we are.”

Councillor Bernard McGuinness replied: “They do. but don’t care.” to which Colr Farren replied: “I know they don’t.”

Colr McDermott added: “They are breaching the contract the department made themselves.”

Councillor Rena Donaghey concluded: “Again, rural areas are unimportant in their eyes.”