Irish legislation on driver licensing operates within the framework of EU legislation. The principal EU law on driver licensing is Directive 126 of 2006. This has been amended a number of times, including by Directive 36 of 2012. Directive 36 allows Member States the option that drivers who have passed a test for vehicles of categories C, CE, D, and DE with an automatic transmission to drive vehicles of those categories with a manual transmission, providing that they also have a licence to drive vehicles of categories B, BE, C, CE, C1, C1E, D, D1 or D1E, and that when tested they underwent tests in safe and energy-efficient driving. Ireland has not adopted this measure, and I have no plans to introduce it. In regard to the second part of the question, standards for vehicles to be used in driving tests are set out in Annex II of Directive 126, as amended by Directive 36, and transposed into Irish law in the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 537 of 2006), as amended.
The regulations provide that, from 30 June 2014, vehicles of categories C and CE must have a transmission of at least eight forward ratios. This is in line with the original text of Directive 126, but more stringent than the amended minimum standards set out in Directive 36. However, under the Directives, it is open to Member States to adopt as a minimum the standards set out in the amended Directive, or to apply more stringent requirements. Ireland has chosen to adopt a more stringent position by continuing to apply the minimum eight-ratio requirement.