Dáil Éireann - Volume 310 - 29 November, 1978

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Army Drivers.

11. Dr. Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment if a member of the armed forces whose duties would involve the driving of tanks, armoured cars, armoured personnel carriers and landrovers is automatically entitled to drive non-military vehicles; and, if not, why.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. J. O'Leary): The answer to the first part of the question is “no”. There is a statutory exemption for members of the Defence Forces from the [259] obligation to hold a driving licence under the Road Traffic Acts, which is limited to driving Army vehicles on official duty.

Dr. Byrne: In view of the fact that the personnel in question are exempted to drive these vehicles on the open roadway, would it not seem logical to the Minister that they should be automatically exempted from undergoing the civilian driving test?

Mr. J. O'Leary: From time to time it has been represented to the Department of the Environment that because of the driving instruction and test given by the Army authorities for drivers in the Defence Forces such drivers should be exempted from the driving test of the Department of the Environment for civilian purposes seeking a driving licence under the Road Traffic Acts. This question was examined by the Department of the Environment in consultation with the Department of Defence and the suggestion was rejected by successive Ministers. It was not accepted that there should be any breaching in favour of the Defence Forces for civilian purposes of the uniform arrangements for the entire public in connection with driving tests under the Road Traffic Acts.

Dr. Byrne: Would it not be prudent for the Department of the Environment to have an inspector present in the Army compound when the Army driver is undergoing a driving test and to issue him automatically with a civilian driving licence at Government expense?

Mr. J. O'Leary: Recently there were discussions between my Department and the Department of Defence. It is understood that the Department of Defence are now making arrangements to facilitate Army drivers to do the civilian test in respect of a driving licence.