When the Deputy prefaces his remarks to me with "To be fair", I get very worried because I am not used to it.
As the Deputy is aware, historically, Ireland has not issued driving licences to asylum seekers. The Supreme Court ruling last year stating that asylum seekers may work while awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications has no direct relevance to driver licensing law. That judgment was in respect of a right to work only and does not confer an entitlement to a driving licence in order to obtain certain types of employment. The two issues are legally quite distinct and the court ruling does not change the position.
I have, as the Deputy knows, asked my officials to re-examine the question of whether we should issue driving licences to asylum seekers, as I know some EU member states do. The matters at issue in the case of driver licences for asylum seekers are matters of both EU and national driver licensing law. I understand, based on legal advice, that it would be possible to issue asylum seekers with driving licences, and I will be happy to consider that, once other matters are resolved.
Verification for the purposes of obtaining a driving licence is an important issue. This may prove difficult for asylum seekers but it is a requirement that all applicants have to meet. It would not be appropriate to require some applicants to meet higher standards of ID verification than other driving licence applicants. The other matters, as I have previously stated to the Deputy, relate to the integrity of the driver licensing system and, in that regard, I have written to my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality. I have not yet received an update for the Deputy since my previous reply to him in April. As I informed the Deputy at that time, my understanding is that the Minister for Justice and Equality is currently seeking background material from the European Migration Network as to the interpretation and implementation of Article 12 of Directive 2006/26/EC.