THOUSANDS of drivers are facing delays of up to six weeks to receive driving licences because of so-called teething problems at National Driving Licence Service (NDLS) centres.
In October this year, the NDLS took responsibility for receiving applications for driving licences and learner permits, taking over from local authority motor tax offices.
However, around 3,000 people who applied in early November to receive a new credit-card sized driving licence will have to wait up until the first week of January.
One driver, Ger Quinn, assumed he'd be one of the first in the country to get one of the new licences.
He joined the queue on the first day that the new centres threw open their doors.
But more than seven weeks later, he is still waiting for a new plastic card driver licence.
"I went to the office in Naas and filled out the necessary forms on October 29," said the Maynooth, Co Kildare, resident.
"Luckily I had all the forms I needed. It took about 25 minutes to process them. I was photographed and had to give a couple of sample signatures. I was told I would have it in four to five days."
He expected to receive the licence in the first batch. "I've had no communication whatsoever from them," he said. "I'm still without my licence and I'm nearly in my eighth week."
He explained they had hoped to visit family living in the UK just after Christmas. "But without a licence I can't hire a car. You need your licence if you are travelling abroad."
And, in the first few days after the system came into place, they opted to take several thousand of the applications received between November 2 and 12 "offline" in a bid to reduce the pressures on the service.
Mr Farrell said this meant the applications were held aside to be put into the system at a later date for processing.
"We can confirm that of the 14,500 applications received in this period, plastic card licences have already been produced for 5,700 of these," he said.
NDLS centres are open today from 9am to 5pm and tomorrow from 9am to 3pm.
But they close Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and re-open on Saturday December 28 at 9am. However, Mr Farrell said that a further 5,000 licences were being posted out.
He said recent applications were being processed within three weeks, some within the eight working day turnaround period.
The RSA expected to reach its target of issuing a licence to customers between five to eight working days by the end of January, Mr Farrell added.