Monopoly on licences ‘may risk 4,000 jobs’

The decision to award a monopoly to a Swiss multi-national to produce new credit card style driving licences will have a devastating effect on photo ID professionals here and could put up to 4,000 jobs in jeopardy.

Driving licence production is being centralised and, from September, applicants will no longer be allowed to have their picture taken in a pharmacy or by a local photographer.

Instead, it must be captured by SGS, a Swiss-based multinational founded in France, that has been appointed by the RSA to operate the system in Ireland.

Attempts to bring in a similar centralised system in France failed after a huge consumer outcry there.

Photo ID Professionals met Noel Brett, chief executive of the RSA, in January to discuss the issue and were assured of an early response. However, there has been a series of delays and, according to an association of ID professionals, they have still to receive a satisfactory response.

The group that met Mr Brett included representatives from Photo-Me, FujiFilm Ireland, Sam McCauley pharmacy, and Retail Ireland. They requested that a printed photo ID be accepted by SGS in the licence renewal process.

Mr Brett said he would consider the proposal and would have an answer within a few weeks yet, according to a spokesperson for the group, there is no clarification on their request, only confusion.

Photo ID Professionals contacted Noel Brett about the delay on his response just last week and were told he would be in touch once he had “concluded the legal and procurement issues which he is required to complete”. He said he is considering an option that will allow consumers the choice to bring their own photo or have their photo taken on site at SGS.

The group said that in its meeting with Mr Brett he had no issues if the group arranged a meeting with SGS — who initially agreed to meet with the group.

Photo ID Professionals said they have since received a communication from SGS saying it has been advised by the RSA not to meet with third parties on this matter and that all queries are to be handled by the RSA.

Tadhg Foley, general manager of Photo-Me Ireland and head of Photo ID Professionals, said: “This delay is very disappointing. The tender document outlined an option to capture the photo on site or to have a printed photo scanned at the SGS office; they were willing to accept either option at the outset so I’m not sure why this decision is taking as long as it is.

“We are also confused as to why the RSA would instruct SGS not to meet with us after they had no issues with a meeting only two months ago.”


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