Dáil debates

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Topical Issue Debate

National Car Test

10:25 pm

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy Dooley for raising this matter. He is correct that the entire objective of the session is to raise topical issues. The original issue raised related to the national car test, NCT, but I will also respond to the questions he has asked regarding the events of today.

First, I wish to refer to changes to the penalty points regime which came into effect yesterday, and the particular change to which Deputy Dooley referred with regard to the NCT system and the need for a certificate. The Deputy referred accurately to the history of the matter, but I wish to highlight one point for the record. Deputy Dooley correctly stated that it has for some years been an offence to use a vehicle on public roads without a valid NCT certificate. The only point I would add is that in the past this offence always involved a direct summons to court and the assignment of five penalty points on conviction. What has now changed is the introduction of a fixed charge notice system. If someone is charged with an offence, he or she will now be issued with a fixed charge notice and, on payment of the €60 charge, will have three penalty points assigned to his or her licence. The driver will continue to have the option of going to court, where five points will still apply on conviction. The key change is the option of compliance with a fixed charge notice and the assignment of three penalty points instead of going directly to court.

In response to the Deputy's point about current waiting times for NCT tests, I have been in constant contact with the Road Safety Authority, RSA, on the matter, and it has informed me that the best way for people to get their appointment is to call the NCTS call centre directly on 01 4135992 rather than booking a test on the website. I am currently examining regional waiting times. I have been in contact with the RSA and it is already aware of the issue. It has put extra staff in place for the period during which most of the tests are likely to be carried out. An additional 50 staff will be in place across the centres. I will continue to monitor the issue to ensure that as many people as possible get the NCT test as required.

The most up-to-date statistics indicate that for the week commencing 24 November, a total of approximately 25,000 NCT tests were carried out. Of those, 9,000 were late or very late - meaning their due test date was in the past; a further 1,450 related to tests that should have been carried out in 2013; and 13,200 were early compliant requests - that is, taking advantage of the facility that was instituted in September to avail of early tests up to 90 days prior to the test due date. Additional staff are now in place. It is my information that 200,000 cars in the State currently do not have a valid NCT certificate. The change has been advertised since the start of September and additional staff are in place. I will continue to closely examine regional waiting times. I responded to the issue raised by the Deputy, but if he has further questions he wishes to raise with me on the other matter, I will respond to him.


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