The Government has been called upon to ‘use the post office network to create a one stop shop system for forms’ by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The rural advocate made the point while speaking in the Dail this week on a motion calling for the current National Driver Licence Service to restore walk-in services.

Fitzmaurice warned the current procedure in place for renewing a licence was especially unfriendly ‘to a generation of people who gave to this country but never had the opportunities that every one of us have had – such as being able to work a computer, being able to go online and being able to bank online or fill out forms’.

We seem, he said, ‘to have become a generation that wants to nearly cast those people aside’.

He added: “I think a nation is viewed by how it looks after its elders. We seem to have this thing in our head of basically leaving them with difficulty, to say the least, in trying to access services.

“One could spend 90 minutes on a phone call. Does an 85-year-old deserve that?”

Fitzmaurice noted that post offices could play a key role in making life easier for the elderly in particular.

“If we are going to protect or help the post office network in this country, I have always said that doing many little things will make it sustainable and make it work.

“However, we decided, of course, that, because of EU rules and procurement, a foreign company would get the tender for licence renewals. Sometimes we do things, and we think are going forward, but in actual fact we are going backwards.

“A better solution down the road would be for the likes of the post office network to take over this, where there is one 5km or 10km away from people and where someone might talk to them – because not having that in-person interaction is the worst part in much of this.

“A person’s problem could be worked out if someone actually spoke to him or her and if he or she saw someone, not a screen.

“We should nearly have a one stop shop and it would be a good idea for the likes of the post offices.

“A person who is coming back to work in Ireland can actually pay people now to basically get his or her life in line for licences, a bank account – another thing for which you now could be waiting for three months – and all the simple things that are necessary to make sure that you can live a normal life and fit into a community,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice at 086-1914565

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