Agreements on mutual recognition of driving licences involve very detailed negotiations. On the Irish side, these negotiations are undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). In Canada, each individual province is responsible for its own driver licensing rules. The RSA has therefore been in negotiations with the various provinces in Canada, with a priority given to reaching an agreement with Ontario due to the large numbers of Irish residents there.
I understand from the RSA that most issues have been agreed with Ontario. However the issue of licences based on exchange for a third country licence has delayed matters. My Department is aware of this, and has been in communication with the embassy in Ottawa in order to explore ways of overcoming this. Negotiations are also at an advanced stage with Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Reaching such an agreement is not only a matter of facilitating the exchange of licences by Irish residents in Canada or by Canadian residents in Ireland. Rather it also involves both sides ensuring that the people licensed to drive in the other jurisdiction are properly qualified. As a result, when Ireland makes agreements of this kind with other jurisdictions, we require, as a standard component of the agreement, that we will not accept licences issued by the other jurisdiction if those licences were in turn derived from an exchange with a third country with which we do not have an exchange relationship.
I am keen to see exchange agreements reached with the Canadian provinces as soon as possible.