A bid to protect Inishowen car owners who allow their children drive to and from Derry without a licence fell during the passage of Dublin Transport Minister Shane Ross’ drink-driving bill through the Seanad.
Donegal Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill said citizens living in rural areas ill-served by public transport had no choice but to let their children use their vehicles and should not be penalised for so doing.
He said this was particularly the case given the lengthy waiting times for driving tests in places like Inishowen.
Senator Ó Domhnaill, referring to the cases of two widow he knows, said: “They had never driven before and they live in an isolated part of rural Donegal. They require a car to go to church, mass, the post office or the shops.
“They got a learner permit and are in the process of applying for their full driver’s licence. One of the women has already passed her theory test and is waiting for a date for a test but the delays are anything between 12 and 20 weeks.”
Independent Senator Victor Boyhan, who has been vocal on driving test waiting times in the past, sympathised with Senator Ó Domhnaill but ultimately refused to support his amendment to the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017.
Senator Boyan mentioned the case of a friend who "talked about his children in Donegal who wanted to go to Derry".
“They were waiting for driving tests for months last year and they took the risk because one cannot go from Donegal into Derry and wait with teenagers all day to come back.
"There are problems there. I have had numerous rows, arguments and debates with the Minister on many issues. One of the issues I first raised when I came in here was the long delays with the RSA and recruiting instructors for driving tests.”