Sinn Féin TD, Dessie Ellis, has taken umbrage with the Irish National Driver Licence Service for refusing to indulge some nationalists’ political psychosis on the recently standardised EU driving licence. From the Irish News report
Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis spoke out after a renewed licence issued to Co Tipperary resident Thomas Murray stated ‘Northern Ireland’ as his place of birth.
The 79-year-old Belfast-born driver, who has lived in Co Tipperary since 1973, previously owned a licence that simply had ‘Ireland’ as his place of birth, but a complaint to the National Driver Licence Service was dismissed as he “confirmed your place of birth as Co Antrim, which is a part of Northern Ireland”.
Mr Thomas said he wanted a licence that “clearly reflects my nationality”, but Ireland’s Road Safety Authority said in a statement that an EU directive which came into force in 2013 required all licences to display the holder’s place of birth.
A spokeswoman said: “The NDLS decided to use Northern Ireland as the description on the licence where a person has a place of birth in Northern Ireland and does not specifically request the usage of The United Kingdom. This information relates to place of birth not nationality or citizenship.”
As the European Commission memo on the Directive notes, one of the objectives behind the standardisation of information on the driving licence is prevention of fraud.
4. How will the new legislation on driving licences reduce possibilities of fraud?
Today, several types of fraud exist. They range from trafficking the document itself, obtaining duplicates unlawfully by suggesting theft or loss of the original licence, to obtaining a driving licence in a different country while being banned from driving in the home country.
The basic philosophy that underlies the fight against driving licence fraud is the principle that one person can only hold one driving licence. This principle has been reinforced by this Directive.
The regular renewal of driving licences will allow Member States to have a regularly updated national database and thus a constantly updated knowledge of the valid driving licences which are in circulation.
At the same time, the communication between the national authorities will be improved by creating a communication network for driving licences between them. The regular consultation of this network, named RESPER, will allow applying the new and stricter rules on the prohibition to issue a licence to someone whose licence has been withdrawn, suspended or restricted. [added emphasis]
Furthermore, Member States are allowed, if they so wish, to insert a microchip in the licence. The repetition of the information printed on the card in the microchip increases the anti-fraud protection and at the same time ensures protection of the data. Of course, European legislation on the protection of personal data will have to be respected.
That should help to explain why the country of origin information is important. Although, it could be argued that they should just use “United Kingdom” in all such circumstances… [Hence ‘mostly’? – Ed]
Back to Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis, and the Irish News report
Dublin North-West TD Dessie Ellis has previously raised the issue of driving licences changing place of birth from Ireland to Northern Ireland in the Dáil, and said of Mr Murray’s case: “I think this is a ridiculous change which should be looked into immediately.
“If someone wanted Northern Ireland on their licence, fair enough, but if they don’t, there should be no changes that might offend those who hold the document.”
[You have the right to be offended! – Ed] Indeed.