Motorists waiting six months for NCTs in some areas, Dáil hears

Unions question if Spanish testers brought to Ireland to clear backlog are suitably qualified

Some motorists are having to wait up to six months to get a National Car Test (NCT) appointment, the Dáil has heard.

Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke said people in his constituency of Meath East have to wait until May or June to receive an appointment and that “six-month waits are not unheard of”.

Mr O’Rourke said he had heard from unions and workers there is “a real concern” that in the rush to address the backlog, “standards are being driven down, and that new recruits or internal transfers within the company are not qualified to the same standard”.

He asked what steps were being taken to reduce long waiting times for NCT appointments, whether the private company operating the service has faced any sanction under its contract due to delays and whether staff temporarily transferred from Spain “are qualified to the same standard as their Irish counterparts”.


Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said the statutory responsibility for “roadworthiness testing” lies with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) but that she was “very aware” of concerns over delays in securing test appointments.

“I have emphasised to the RSA the importance of reducing this backlog and my officials are meeting weekly with the RSA to monitor progress in reducing delays,” she said.

“My department will continue to keep the situation under close review as well as supporting any appropriate requests from the RSA for assistance.”

Ms Naughton said contractual sanctions were a matter for the RSA and penalty clauses apply where the contractor breaches key targets.

“The RSA has confirmed that contract mechanisms have applied where service levels are not met,” she said.

“However, the contractor is disputing these and further discussions are planned in the coming weeks.”

The junior minister also said temporary vehicle inspectors from Spain are qualified to QQI level 5 and this was considered the appropriate minimum requirement for vehicle inspectors in the State until 2020.

“This was changed in accordance with apprenticeship changes in Ireland as well as to align with the commercial standard,” she said.

“Testers in Ireland are re required to hold QQI level 6 qualifications but the RSA has confirmed that local applicants with QQI level 5 will be considered for a temporary period and has indicated that on the job training will be provided to bring testers to a QQI level 6 standard.

“The RSA has also assured my department that the highest testing standards we expect from the NCT will not be compromised in any way as they work to increase the testing capacity and deal with the backlogs.”

Ms Naughton said work was under way to increase test centre capacity and restore the average appointment waiting time to “an acceptable level” and that a priority waiting list has been established for motorists to avail of cancellations.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times