Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has called for additional resources to be made available to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to help clear the backlog of people waiting to access driving tests in Carlow.

Senator Murnane O’Connor made the comments after obtaining new information which shows that people in Carlow are forced to wait 25 weeks to access a driving test.

Senator Murnane O’Connor said, “The RSA has committed to maintain an average test waiting time of no more than 10 weeks across the country. However new information which I have obtained shows that this target is simply not being met in Carlow as people are being forced to wait weeks to access a test. It is unacceptable that it is nearly 7 months before being called for a test.

“This simply isn’t good enough and it is having a detrimental impact on younger people in particular. They are unable to take up jobs as they are having difficulty in getting their driving licenses in time to start work. Learning to drive is a lifeline, particularly in rural areas. It determines whether people can attend school or college, get a job or visit older relatives.

“This issue was raised in the Seanad last February and we were told that additional resources and staff would be put in place to reduce waiting times. However this simply hasn’t happened yet and the Minister for Transport Shane Ross has shown an inability to get to grips with staffing problems in his own Department.

“The waiting times for driving tests is going to continue increasing unless Minister Ross takes decisive action. Returning Irish emigrants is going to increase demand for driving tests yet despite this the Department has still not hired the additional staff that it needs to meet this demand. It is a ridiculous situation and is having a detrimental impact on people’s livelihoods.

“Minister Ross needs to sort out the difficulties in his own Department instead of looking to travel off to North Korea on a foreign affairs junket,” concluded Senator Murnane O’Connor.