‘We cannot speed up training of driving test examiners’ says minister amid backlog

The training of 27 new driving examiners to deal with the backlog of cancelled tests in Northern Ireland cannot be fast-tracked, the infrastructure minister has insisted.

Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 9:34 pm
Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon

Nichola Mallon said while securing test dates for thousands of learner drivers impacted by the Covid -19 pandemic was a priority, road safety had to come first.

The pandemic has led to several period when driving tests have been cancelled while driving instructors have been forced to halt work multiple times due to the close contact nature of their job.

It has led to a backlog of thousands of tests.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A number of MLAs pressed Ms Mallon on the situation during Assembly question time on Tuesday.

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs told the minister it was “disappointing” the time it was taking to recruit extra examiners.

“Does she agree that the time taken for the recruitment process is excessive and that, given these exceptional circumstances, the process needs to be speeded up so that key workers, young people and members of the public who need a driving test can be facilitated by trained instructors in a timely manner?” he asked.

The minister replied: “We are recruiting 27 permanent and temporary examiners.

“We are working off a merit list for a number of those, but we also have to make sure that all those who are recruited are fully trained.

“These driving examiners are taking pupils out, and we need to make absolutely sure that they are trained because this is a road safety issue.

“We are, of course, trying to do things as efficiently and effectively as we can, but it is always about balancing that with my statutory responsibility for ensuring road safety.”

– OFFER: We have a 30 per cent off subscription offer for the News Letter website which runs until midnight on Friday; visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up –

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe