Photo ID sector protests new drivers’ licence system

New credit card style licences will be introduced from September

Representatives of the photo ID industry yesterday protested outside Leinster House over what they say is the government's failure to engage with them over a new drivers' licence system that will omit traditional vendors and lead to job losses.

The photo-booth company Photo Me, retail representatives, McCauley Pharmacies and Fujifilm Ireland have all claimed that Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has ignored their request for a meeting.

Instead, they have claimed, a government contract has been awarded to the company SGS to produce all future licence photographs at designated locations around the country in line with SAFE 2 standards and regulations.

New credit card style licences will be introduced from September in line with European law.


Tadhg Foley, general manager of Photo Me – which operates about 90 per cent of booths in Ireland – said the photo ID sector was worth some €9m per year and taking it from traditional suppliers will lead to the loss of approximately 500 jobs.

“The bottom line is our jobs are at risk and nobody at Ministerial level seems to care,” he said.

The group claim that 40 to 50 per cent of all photo IDs taken in Ireland are done so for drivers’ licences.

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar said: "I am not sure that a meeting was refused outright. I think it was more likely that we have suggested that they talk to the Road Safety Authority. "

The RSA, which has overall responsibility for the scheme, said that contrary to the group’s claims, photographs produced outside of the new system would not be in line with SAFE 2 standards which are more to do with personal registration and authentication than simply having a picture taken. It did not comment on the potential for job losses.

A spokesman said it had met with both the Irish Pharmacy Union and IBEC photo ID industry representatives last January where it was requested that traditional printed photographs be accepted.

"Having considered the matter the RSA has informed IBEC and IPU that it is not feasible to use a traditional printed photo for the one off identity verification visit which applicants will make to the National Driving Licensing Service (NDLS)," it said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times