Proposal to fine motorists not carrying a driving licence goes down like a lead balloon with farmers

Farmers face fines for not carrying a driving license at all times

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Proposals by the Minister for Transport Shane Ross that would see motorists not carrying a driving licence hit with automatic fines has gone down like a lead balloon with farmers.

It comes following reports that Transport Minister Shane Ross has been warned to ease up on his plans for new road safety laws.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has intervened to express the concerns of Fine Gael TDs and some ministers about Mr Ross's plans for a tough penalty points system.

Mr Ross has put forward proposals to introduce tough penalties for motorists caught speeding and automatic fines for not carrying a driving licence.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael has sought to delay any changes by pushing them to a Cabinet committee for assessment.

Denis Drennan, Chairperson of Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association’s Farm and Rural Affairs Committee said that he could easily envisage circumstances where busy farmers moving from vehicle to vehicle might not have their driving licence with them ‘to hand’ in the event of their being asked by the Gardai to show it. 

Mr Drennan said it was simply a fact that farmers could be using several vehicles on the public roads in the course of one day.

“In fairness to our members, they might be moving between cars, tractors and maybe even teleporters or other machines, all properly registered and insured and all within a matter of minutes or a few hours, could Minister Ross not for once recognise that there are certain categories of road users for whom certain allowances have to be made? 

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"The minister seems to revel in the fact that he makes no allowances for rural dwellers or farmers and recognises no difference whatsoever in the way that people in the middle of the countryside use – actually have to use their vehicles – compared to the people in the leafy south Dublin suburbs that he represents," he said.

"Can he not see that farmers, for instance, might have to several different types of vehicles in the course of their working day and genuinely might forget the physically bring their licence with them every time they change seat? 

"In the event of the farmer not having his or her licence with them bodily, what is wrong with the existing system where they call into the Garda barracks and show it there? 

Unless there’s a little embarrassment about the fact that there might not be a local Garda barracks for 15 or 20 miles that the farmer could call into”, said Mr Drennan.      

Even the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar admitted to, on occasion, having left his wallet at home and, therefore, having driven without my driving licence. 

"We need to tighten up the law but we need to tighten it up in such a way that we are not a police state," he said recently.

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