Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (63)

Pat Breen

Question:

63. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the concern among the Irish community in Canada regarding the delay in reaching agreement with various Canadian provinces on driving licence exchange; and if he will provide an update on this matter. [23043/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am deeply conscious of the unease within the Irish community in Canada about the lack of reciprocal arrangements with the various Canadian Provinces, each of which is responsible for regulating and issuing licences to motorists resident within its own jurisdiction. The lack of such agreements with Ireland can have the effect of restricting the opportunities for employment for holders of Irish drivers' licences in Canada. This is particularly important to us given the large number of Irish people moving to Canada in 2014. A number of other EU jurisdictions, including Northern Ireland, have such agreements with several of the Canadian provinces and I strongly support efforts to achieve similar rights for the holders of Irish driving licences. Our Ambassador in Ottawa, Ray Basset, is in constant contact with the Irish community in Canada, and he has relayed to me their concerns about the lack of reciprocity. I have instructed him and his staff to continue to do all within their power to identify through their local contacts and experience any way in which matters may be brought forward more quickly.

In this regard our Embassy in Ottawa is working closely with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, under whose aegis the Road Safety Authority is conducting the negotiations for Ireland. The Embassy will continue to offer their advice and support to the negotiations, as well as communicating with the Irish community to ensure that they have access to accurate information. Ministerial responsibility for the conclusion of these agreements lies with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. I know that the Minister answered a Written Parliamentary Question from the Deputy on 13 May on the progress of negotiations. I can provide no further update on that, but I do wish to assure the Deputy that the needs of Irish communities abroad in this regard are very much understood and that the Embassy will continue to do everything within its power to support a positive outcome.

Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 55.