Irish returning with full US driving licences treated only as learner drivers in Ireland – Scanlon

Rule does not apply to Irish holders of foreign driving licences issued in countries including Taiwan and South Korea.

Sligo News File

Unfair and discriminatory Government treatment of people returning to Ireland has been highlighted by a Sligo TD.

Eamon Scanlon,TD

Eamon Scanlon has spoken of drivers being prevented from exchanging their US driving permits for Irish driving licences – even apparently where they have passed tests and driven for years in an evidently more challenging environment than on Irish roads. They must start all over again as learner drivers, pass learner driver tests and even then are only allowed to be on the road where accompanied by the holder of a full Irish licence.

The Minister with responsibility for the Road Safety Authority, the body implementing the measure, is Shane Ross.

Scanlon said that despite the Programme for Government promising to facilitate the return of 70,000 immigrants to Ireland, their reintegration is being made “unnecessarily difficult.”

He said people coming back from the US “are being disproportionately affected.

“When they return, their US driving licence is only valid for one year. Once that expires, they are expected to apply for a learner permit, undergo 12 lessons, and only drive when accompanied by a driver with a full licence.” The rule does not apply to persons returning from other countries he said. “There is a serious inconsistency in this system.

“Why are drivers with a full US licence forced to go through the full application process when people returning from countries like Taiwan and South Korea can exchange their licences for an Irish one? It makes no sense.”

The sanctions, he said, are running up substantial cost and inconvenience for the Irish US licence holders “not to mention the cost of motor insurance for learner drivers.”

He said the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has confirmed that an Indecon report is being prepared “on the potential barriers for people returning home in terms of driver licences, insurance costs, life insurance, health insurance and a range of other issues. “I am urging him to ensure that this report is published at the earliest opportunity and the recommendations in it are implemented.

“People wishing to return home from abroad should not be penalised by excessive red tape and nonsensical processes which makes life more difficult for them. The government needs to act on this report without delay,” he said.