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Responding to the release of new data outlining how many vehicle and driving tests were conducted in Northern Ireland in September, DUP Strangford MLA and Infrastructure Committee Chair Michelle McIlveen said:

‘Throughout this pandemic the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has cast doubt on the true extent of the driving test backlog in Northern Ireland. She has been wrong to deflect and downplay the crisis and its impact on thousands of young people.

Today’s data from the Driver and Vehicle Agency highlights that on average over the last five years, 34,838 driving tests were carried out between the months of March and September. In 2020 this number was just 6,163.

This points to a backlog of almost 29,000 practical tests. The Minister has been keen to call for an ‘evidential basis’ for estimates of the backlog. Here it is in black and white from statistics published by her own Department.

Core concerns around testing capacity have not gone away. In September just over half of the normal quota of tests were carried out, including just 13 at the Craigavon site. The backlog continues to rise. When will extra examiners be available? Will additional slots be available? These are crucial questions that needs answers and quickly.’’