As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.
However, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport passenger services nationally, including the provision of bus services in rural areas. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of Local Link services funded under the Rural Transport Programme. Of course, these are only some of the mobility solutions available to people. Others include carsharing and active travel.
I accept that the legal requirement for learner drivers to be appropriately accompanied at all times can be the source of some inconvenience in the short term. I remind the Deputy, however, that the purpose of this measure is to allow learners a safe space in which to develop the skill, knowledge and experience necessary to pass the driving test, as well as to protect the lives of other road users - particularly the vulnerable - until the learner has gained sufficient skills and experience to qualify for a licence. In the interest of producing safe and responsible drivers, and protecting the lives of all road users, it is critical that this supervised learning process be sustained.