An Post 'should have got licence contract'
Mr Rabbitte caused surprise last night by admitting during a debate on the future of rural post offices that the setting up of the National Driving Licence Service (NDLS) centres may not have been necessary.
The minister said he raised the idea of giving responsibility for issuing driving licences to post offices but "unfortunately" under law the service had to go out to competitive tender.
"I think they should have done that," he said, referring to the idea of giving An Post the service, but added: "You can't give out a hidden subsidy.
"The fact of the matter is that the post office is also in a competitive business these days. I hear people complaining about the distances that they have to drive to renew their driving licences so why shouldn't it be done in the local post office."
Mr Rabbitte was responding to comments from Brian McGann of the Irish Postmasters' Union, who said on RTE's 'Prime Time' that he "couldn't understand why for a document that is not as important as your passport, you have to apply for it in such a difficult and restricted way when all that had to be done was replicate the 'express passport' service".
In October last, the NDLS took responsibility for receiving applications for driving licences and learner permits, taking over from local authority motor tax offices.