In May 2011, the Government decided to centralise the driver licence service under the Road Safety Authority (RSA). With the commencement of the relevant sections of the Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012, the RSA became the driver licensing authority for Ireland with effect from 12th January 2013.
The RSA proposes to operate the service through three separate contracts related to licence card production, back-office processing services and front-office customer interface. The Authority will also operate a specialist unit from its headquarters in Ballina. Responsibility for procuring the service of the three contracted bodies rests with the RSA and I have referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for reply to the specific aspects raised.
However, in relation to the agent network service, I understand from the RSA that this will be in place by the end of September this year. Until then, licence applications will continue to be made at the Motor Tax Office and I want to thank those local authority employees in the Motor Tax Offices who are facilitating this changeover.
The locations of the offices have not yet been identified however I am informed that the 35 centre locations will provide service to 98% of the population within a 50km radius. There will be a minimum of one location per county and the new network of offices will be open Monday through Saturday and during lunchtime, a major improvement for drivers, especially those in employment. In addition, they will have longer opening hours to facilitate customers who may not be able to apply for their licence during normal working hours. When the location of these centres is finalised, their locations will be announced though a public information campaign.