You don’t have to get a pub­lic ser­vice card – but you have to get a pub­lic ser­vice card

Irish Independent - - Comment Sinead Ryan - Sinead Ryan

THE row over the ‘manda­tory but not com­pul­sory’ pub­lic ser­vice card (PSC) rolls on at an em­bar­rass­ing level. My son, who re­cently passed his driv­ing test (first time #proud­mum) now has to up­grade his learner per­mit (cost

€35) to a full li­cence (cost €55). He is told he needs to ac­quire a pub­lic ser­vice card (cost: a lot of time and trou­ble) to do so.

The PSC is now needed not only for this, but also just to sit the driver the­ory test (cost €45). It is, we are told ve­he­mently, Not A Na­tional Iden­tity Card.

It is sim­ply, we are to be­lieve, handy, con­ve­nient, use­ful, ex­pe­di­ent, but def­i­nitely not com­pul­sory. Ex­cept you have to have one.

Since April 9, it is the law, but it’s not manda­tory or any­thing. Just, you know… es­sen­tial.

Not cru­cial, but nec­es­sary. Any­one re­new­ing their ex­ist­ing driv­ing li­cence also needs a PSC. Ex­cept they don’t. Well, un­less they want a new li­cence.

Con­fused? If only there was an or­gan­i­sa­tion which could clar­ify the sit­u­a­tion. Oh… but wait.

The Road Safety Author­ity, which does a wor­thy job in cur­tail­ing deaths on our roads, has spent a whop­ping

€2m on ad­ver­tis­ing the need for the non-manda­tory PSC to be com­pul­sory for driv­ing pur­poses. It was told to do so by the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Ex­pen­di­ture and Re­form.

This is more than it spends on prac­ti­cally any­thing else. Now it’s been re­vealed that, ac­tu­ally, it’s prob­a­bly il­le­gal and there shouldn’t be any re­quire­ment to in­sist on it just to sit a driv­ing test. Ex­cept there is. It’s still up as a manda­tory (but not com­pul­sory) re­quire­ment on its web­site.

There’s been a stand-off be­tween the At­tor­ney Gen­eral, the Depart­ment of Trans­port (I won­der if Min­is­ter Shane Ross has a card, given he col­lects the pen­sion now), and the RSA over who needs one, why they need it and how it’s go­ing to be rolled out. No­body seems any the wiser, but Joe Cit­i­zen, as ever, is get­ting stuffed along the way.

So, the bot­tom line is you do need one. Well, you don’t, un­less you need stuff from the State. Like a driv­ing li­cence, pen­sion, dole or a pass­port. Still, that’s hardly any­one, right? Be­fore you go as gog­gle-eyed as I did try­ing to read up on it, here’s the handy guide to get your ID in or­der, gleaned from the web­sites of the De­part­ments of So­cial Pro­tec­tion, Trans­port and Foreign Af­fairs: To get a pub­lic ser­vice card, you need a pass­port or driv­ing li­cence. To get a pass­port or driv­ing li­cence you need a pub­lic ser­vice card.

You’re wel­come.

She’s quick off the Markle

IWONDER if Meghan Markle needs an iden­tity card to get mar­ried to­mor­row? Be­ing Amer­i­can, she had to sit a UK citizenship test just to join the fam­ily. For the pur­poses of re­search, and also craic, I also sat this and it in­volves such gems of ques­tions as “Who is the Monarch?”, for which I sin­cerely hope she won’t need prompt­ing, but also “Is the BBC con­trolled by the gov­ern­ment?” (tin-foil hat may be donned be­fore an­swer­ing) and “Which Scottish king de­feated the English at the Bat­tle of Ban­nock­burn?” (to which the cor­rect an­swer must be, “who cares?”).

She’ll need a hol­i­day af­ter it’s all over, but it turns out they’re not go­ing on hon­ey­moon until later in the year, plung­ing the new bride into royal du­ties straight away.

A gar­den party for a mere 6,000 is first up, God love her.

The whole hon­ey­moon thing has got out of hand any­way. Peo­ple these days have mini-moons (be­fore the wed­ding), baby-moons (be­fore the sprog), pre-wed­ding gir­lie hol­i­days (for the tan), hen trips, stag jol­lies and ev­ery­thing else which, un­less you’re Croe­sus, costs the guests you drag along an ab­so­lute for­tune.

Just get on with it and stop in­volv­ing us in the ex­pense.

Ho­tel room with plenty of space

WHILE we’re on the sub­ject of hon­ey­moons, here’s a novel sug­ges­tion for the rich and fa­mous to get away from it all.

While we’re wait­ing for Richard Bran­son and Elon Musk to jet off into space along with the hand­ful of bil­lion­aires hold­ing out to be­come the first space tourists, ku­dos for for­ward plan­ning go to Bark.com, the world’s first on­line space travel agent. Ad­mit­tedly in­ter-ga­lac­tic trips aren’t avail­able just yet, but that’s not stop­ping the en­ter­pris­ing com­pany from tak­ing reser­va­tions for 2021, when the first space ho­tel be­gins its or­bit.

Hol­i­day­mak­ers can ex­pect flights to cost up to $790,000, while €9.5m price tag for a 12-day visit to the Aurora Sta­tion ‘spo­tel’ will bring po­ten­tial hol­i­day­mak­ers down to earth with a bang.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Shane Ross will be need­ing a PSC – or not

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