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Question

210. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 468 of 15 January 2019, if the mobility project has commenced; the way in which the justice system deals with persons who do not present their driver licence when requested (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17272/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that delivery of the Garda Mobile Strategy which aims to harness the power of mobile technology falls under the remit of the Garda Commissioner.  I understand that implementation of that Strategy is on a phased basis. As part of An Garda Síochána's engagement with the Policing Authority, monthly reports are published online which include updates in relation to modernisation and renewal, including ICT projects. The February 2019 report of An Garda Síochána to the Policing Authority provides the following update:
"After the successful completion of the Mobility Pilot in Limerick, a full review of the system configuration is currently in progress. The development of new functionality for checking NCT status of vehicles is now in the test phase."
The March 2019 report indicates that an upgrade was successfully completed to assist in front-line mobility. These reports are available to download via: www.garda.ie and  www.policingauthority.ie.
Penalties for driving while disqualified and for non-return of a driving licence are contained in Road Traffic legislation, which falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Minister Shane Ross, T.D. As regards the relinquishing of a driving licence on foot of a disqualification, Part 9 of the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 537 of 2006), as amended, contains regulations relating to drivers who are subject to a consequential, ancillary or special disqualification.
It is acknowledged that there is a cohort of drivers that do not comply with the aforementioned legal requirements and do not surrender their licences on foot of a disqualification.  That being the case, the rate of licence non-return does not necessarily equate with the rate of driving while disqualified. For example, a person who has not surrendered their physical licence  might no longer drive, whereas another person who has complied with the aforementioned regulations by returning their licence, might, in fact, continue to drive without a licence.
Enforcement is crucial and the roll-out of the Garda mobility strategy will facilitate more effective road traffic enforcement via front-line access to real time information, including in relation to disqualified drivers.
The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government recognises that Gardaí must have the modern technology and resources necessary to detect and investigate crimes, and to prevent loss and harm to citizens and their property on a 24/7 basis.
The Deputy will also be aware that the key importance of ICT and digital innovation was also emphasised in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and a number of related actions are included in the Implementation Plan for that report - 'A Policing Service for the Future'.