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Gardaí could be given access to PPS numbers of two million drivers

Giving gardaí widespread access to the PPS numbers of two million road users would be an "absolute game changer" in Irish motoring, the head of the AA has said.

A special Government taskforce is now considering allowing gardai more widespread access to the numbers.

Other measures examined by the multi-agency group include the exchange of PPS details between private vehicle buyers and sellers.

Also being reviewed is the linking of the PPS number of a car owner with the registration of each new vehicle. The group is also looking at social security numbers being used to block people with unpaid fines from selling or buying vehicles or from renewing a licence. Gardaí are not on the list of bodies that are allowed to access the PPS details of private citizens.

The director of AA Ireland, Conor Faughnan, said the measures were "drastic", but unlikely to be introduced anytime soon.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, he stressed there's more at play than just "motoring issues".

"Essentially, they're talking about using PPS numbers as a national identification system. But there's more to doing that than simple road safety administrative matters. It's a drastic solution, and the debate should go far beyond road safety. But in terms of road safety, it is true that this area needs to be tidied up, and we need better administration."

The proposals are contained in the official minutes of meetings of the Criminal Justice Working Group. The group was set up to consider changes to road traffic crime enforcement, in the aftermath of the penalty points controversy.

The prospect of giving gardaí widespread access to PPS numbers was first raised last April.

The proposal was tabled at a meeting of the taskforce, which is jointly chaired by the Departments of Transport and Justice, according to documents obtained by RTE's 'This Week'.

The membership of the Criminal Justice Working Group includes the Departments of Justice and Transport, An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Road Safety Authority.

Access to PPS numbers is primarily the responsibility of Tánaiste Joan Burton's Department of Social Protection. Ms Burton said one of the main issues being examined by the internal working group was how to clamp down on motorists who refuse to pay fines.

"Some of those may be dangerous to other road users," she told the Irish Independent.

"I presume, like all working groups in every department, they're examining to see if there are things they can do to actually improve the situation, and reduce potential dangers for people using our roads."

Irish Independent