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Ability to apply for driving licence affords greater freedom to people living in direct provision – Carroll MacNeill

18th December 2021 - Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, TD

The announcement yesterday that those living in direct provision are now eligible to apply for learner permits and driving licences will give people greater freedom and independence, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Fine Gael Spokesperson for Equality, said, “Up until yesterday’s announcement, people living in direct provision have been unable to apply for a learner permit or driving licence.

“I have met with advocacy groups, charities and NGOs who have all raised this issue with me. But most importantly, this matter has been consistently raised with me directly by residents in direct provision centres whenever I have met with them.

“Since these conversations, I have raised the issue time and again with Minister Naughton, Minister O’Gorman, Minister McEntee and Minister Ryan to seek a resolution. The Department of Transport have been working on a solution through legislation, which had been expected to progress further early next year.

“However, yesterday’s development is a positive end to a year where we have seen monumental action on ending direct provision, including an extra €41 million for international protection and the work to dismantle the direct provision system.

“Earlier this year, I spoke with a mother who was walking her young children to school on narrow country roads due to a lack of suitable transport. People, parents and families in direct provision face practical issues in their lives every day, particularly with transport which presents further difficulties in accessing school and labour opportunities.

“The announcement that all people in direct provision and international protection can apply for learner permits and driving licences affords greater freedom, particularly to direct provision residents living in centres in more isolated and rural areas.

“The commitment to end the direct provision system by 2024 is crucial. But the actions we take along the way are equally as important in affording people basic privileges. We have seen progress on the entitlement to open bank accounts and now today’s announcement that those in direct provision can apply for an Irish driving licence.

“We remain on the path to a fairer and more compassionate system, and although work remains to be done, I am confident of the commitment of our Government to end direct provision,” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.

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