Public Services Card no longer needed for driver theory test

Shane Ross insists department did not tell Road Safety Authority card should be obligatory

The Public Services Cards (PSC) will no longer be needed by people applying to do the driver theory test, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said.

Plans to make the card obligatory for the driving test itself from April this year were cancelled after the Attorney General advised there was no legal basis for making the card a mandatory form of identification in the driving test process.

For the past nine months it has been mandatory for applicants for the driver theory test to have a PSC.

The Minister said “in the interests of consistency, alternatives to the PSC will be catered for” in relation to theory tests.


He said that because the theory test was operated through a contractor he gathered “that allowing for the use of a passport, for example, may involve revisions to that contract.

“ That is an operational matter for the Road Safety Authority (RSA),” he said.

Answering questions in the Dáil, Mr Ross contradicted the RSA and insisted that “at no point” did the Department of Transport tell the authority that a PSC should be mandatory as a form of identity for the driving test process.

He said the RSA’s approach “was in line with neither Government policy nor legislation” and there was “evidently a misunderstanding”.

‘Solo run’

However, Sinn Féin transport spokeswoman Imelda Munster said the Department of transport "seems to be suggesting the RSA went on a bizarre solo run".

She said the Minister’s spokesperson said no losses had arisen “yet the RSA claims €2 million was wasted” in the promotion of the PSC.

“One side is being economical with the truth,” she claimed.

The Minister said the €2 million was spent on developing an online application system for driving licences and the RSA’s expenditure in relation to the PSC “was an amount of the order of €30,000 to €40,000”.

The PSC, which is issued by the State and used in the provision of services such as social welfare benefits, has been the subject of data protection controversy.

Ms Munster said that according to the RSA, the department in March 2017 “instructed that PSCs were to be mandatory in the process of applying for a driving licence or a theory test”.

Mr Ross said that “an erroneous policy of making the card the only acceptable form of identification was pursued by the RSA. At no point did the Department then direct the RSA to adopt a mandatory approach”.

Ms Munster said it was clear from Freedom of Information documents that the law was broken in relation to making the PSC mandatory in the first place for driver theory tests and she asked “who will be accountable for potential data breaches regarding the personal data of theory test applicants”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times