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‘Northern Ireland' change to Irish driving licence branded ‘ridiculous' by Dublin TD

Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis spoke out after a renewed licence issued to Co Tipperary resident Thomas Murray stated ‘Northern Ireland’ as his place of birth. Picture by John Stillwell, Press Association
Paul Ainsworth

A DUBLIN TD has hit out at a “ridiculous” change to a driving licence issued in the Republic, in which a motorist’s place of birth was changed from ‘Ireland’ to ‘Northern Ireland’.

Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis spoke out after a renewed licence issued to Co Tipperary resident Thomas Murray stated ‘Northern Ireland’ as his place of birth.

The 79-year-old Belfast-born driver, who has lived in Co Tipperary since 1973, previously owned a licence that simply had ‘Ireland’ as his place of birth, but a complaint to the National Driver Licence Service was dismissed as he “confirmed your place of birth as Co Antrim, which is a part of Northern Ireland”.

Mr Thomas said he wanted a licence that “clearly reflects my nationality”, but Ireland’s Road Safety Authority said in a statement that an EU directive which came into force in 2013 required all licences to display the holder’s place of birth.

A spokeswoman said: “The NDLS decided to use Northern Ireland as the description on the licence where a person has a place of birth in Northern Ireland and does not specifically request the usage of The United Kingdom. This information relates to place of birth not nationality or citizenship.”

However, Mr Murray’s previous licence stating he was born in Ireland had been issued on 2013, after the directive came into force.

Dublin North-West TD Dessie Ellis has previously raised the issue of driving licences changing place of birth from Ireland to Northern Ireland in the Dáil, and said of Mr Murray’s case: “I think this is a ridiculous change which should be looked into immediately.

“If someone wanted Northern Ireland on their licence, fair enough, but if they don’t, there should be no changes that might offend those who hold the document.”

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