Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has strongly criticised the excuses of Government Departments for facing Irish citizens returnming from abroad.

Speaking following yet more false statements surrounding renewal of drivers’ licences Carthy said:

“The same Irish Government that is responsible for the mass emigration of thousands of young people from our shores is now actively blocking the same young people from coming home.

“Not only are they failing to plan for the return of citizens, but it is evident from responses I am receiving from the Departments that Government policy is to actually deter people from coming home.

“The latest issue that has come to the surface are the new rules requiring citizens to present themselves in person when they wish to renew their Irish Driver Licences.

“Up until recently procedures allowed citizens to post their licences home. But now the Department claims EU Regulations require a rule change. This is just not true.

“Not only does Directive 2006/126/EC on drivers’ licences not even deal with renewal procedures, but other countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands – to name just two – allow citizens abroad to conduct these procedures through embassies and by post.

“There are simply no arguments to justify a system where citizens abroad can renew their passports but not their drivers’ licences online.

“If other Member States can make arrangements for citizens abroad, then it is grossly unfair that our own Government would make the situation more difficult for citizens abroad who may wish to return.

“To blame the situation on EU legislation and say that they are unable to take action is merely shirking responsibility.

“It is deplorable that emigration is till being forced upon young people by a failure of Government.

“Recent statistics from the Western Development Commission show that there has been a 41% decline in the number of people employed in agriculture in the last 20 years in the West of Ireland.

“Much of this is due to the massive amount of young people who left the region and the barriers that continue to be there for young farmers wishing to return.

“Farmers, nurses and others face real, legislative barriers and disadvantages when they seek to come home.

“The Government must stop hiding behind non-existent EU legislation and start planning for returning citizens. I will be writing to the European Commission and the Minister to ensure that the legal situation on the renewal of drivers licences is clarified.”

Government must end barriers facing returning citizens

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