“People value cash”: NCT comes under fire from TDs for adopting cashless policy

The decision by the National Car Test (NCT) to go cashless has drawn criticism from several TDs, who have slammed it as “unnecessary” and “damaging” – and have called for the vehicle inspection programme to row back on the move.

“We’re saying goodbye to cash!” the NCT shared on social media on Monday. “NCTS are going cashless over the coming months for your safety and convenience, that means payment must be made in advance of attending your NCT. When introduced, payment can be made online or by postal order.”

The announcement sparked an overwhelmingly angry reaction on social media – with over 2,000 ‘anger’ reacts to the post alone on Facebook.

“This is ridiculous, cash is legal tender, you can’t refuse cash,” one user wrote. 

“Explain how it’s for our safety and convenience,” wrote another. 

In a social media post taking aim at the NCT, Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath, said the “move to cashless” was continuing “at speed.”

“The move to cashless continues at speed with yet another agent of this state moving to cashless only systems. The Minister for Transport has to take immediate action here as the NDLS and now the NCT services are refusing to accept cash from customers.”

He referred to a motion, brought by himself and his colleagues in the Rural Independent Group, seeking to ensure the us of cash:

“In March of this year my Rural Independet colleagues and I brought a motion before the Dai calling on the government to protect cash as legal tender.

“While the Government accepted the motion they have done little since to protect cash within our society. My colleagues and I will be taking them to task on this failure when the Dail resumes.

“With all the other failings within the NCT system, you’dn think the focus should be on dealing with backlogs rather than refusing cash paying “customers,” he wrote.

Mr McGrath was joined by colleague, independent TD for Laois Offaly, Carol Nolan, in firm pushback to the move. 

She said today that she is engaging with the Road Safety Authority following the decision of the National Car Testing Service (NCT) to adopt its cashless payment policy. The RSA is the statutory body with responsibility for the operation of the NCT.

Deputy Nolan was speaking speaking as backlash continued to grow online today among consumers who objected to the proposal, with particular concern being expressed for the older population who may prefer to retain a cash payment option out of necessity and convenience:

“Both the Central Bank and indeed Government have repeatedly stated a willingness to maintain and protect the option of paying by cash for goods and services,” said Deputy Nolan.

“Well, it’s time for Government and the Minister for Transport to put their money where their mouth is and intervene with the RSA and the provider of the NCT service to show us how serious they are on this issue.”

“It just makes no sense for the NCT to adopt this approach when we spent almost the entirety of 2022 and well into 2023 trying to ensure that everything possible was done to reduce the backlog in and reinstate an average waiting period of 12 days. They should be making it easier on people to book their tests not harder.”

“People value the cash option but more importantly they value the sense of not being railroaded into a ‘cashless’ society simply for the convenience of operators who provide a mandatory public service.”

“The NCT and the RSA urgently need to rethink this one and stop making people’s lives more difficult than they already are,” she added.

The Aontú leader and Meath West TD also called for the NCT to reverse the “damaging decision.”

“Cash is inclusive. Cash provides a simple payment method for every one irrespective of access to the internet, smart phones or the ability to use technology,” Mr Tóibin said.

“Cash is crucial for the inclusion of socially vulnerable citizens such as the elderly or lower-income groups and people living in rural areas or without access to technology. 

“Ending the use of cash is a kick in the stomach to older people. It makes older people dependent. It reduces their autonomy when we should be encouraging them to live full and independent lives.

“Older people have to ask their children or their neighbours to carry out everyday actions on their behalf. This does real damage to their confidence. Indeed, Age advocacy groups came out strongly against the ending of cash at GAA matches for this reason”. 

Deputy Tóibin pointed to poor phone and internet coverage in many parts of the country, arguing that the move to go cashless would lead to discommoding many people living in rural areas. He also said there are many people who can’t use their phone to make complicated transactions. 

“Many many people can’t use the authentication software on banking apps necessary to make transactions. Signals often drop before authentication can be competed”.

He likened the decision to the one by the GAA to refuse cash payments – something which prompted petition campaigns and concern from age charities.

“I would say that this is a more damaging decision than even the GAA or the banking decisions as this is a mandatory state service,” he said.

“You cannot drive unless you get an NCT. The penalty for driving without an NCT certificate is a fine of up to €2,000, and/or up to 5 penalty points and/or imprisonment for up to 3 months. I think this decision is a bit rich coming from the NCT also given that they cannot run their service as properly. Many people have had massive delays over the last year”.

“The Central Bank of Ireland states clearly that cash ensures your freedom and autonomy. It states that ‘Banknotes and coins are the only form of money that people can keep without involving a third party. You don’t need access to equipment, the internet or electricity to pay with cash, meaning it can be used when the power is down or if you lose your card’”.

“It states that ‘Cash helps you keep track of your expenses. Cash allows you to keep closer control of your spending, for example by preventing you from overspending,” he said.

“It’s secure. Cash has proven to be secure in terms of cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting. And, as it’s central bank money, it doesn’t entail financial risks for either the payer or the payee’.

“Cash is also legal tender. According to the Central Bank of Europe, creditors, such as shops and restaurants, cannot refuse cash, unless both they and the customer have agreed on another means of payment in advance. Its time that the Minister of Finance clarified what does this mean. Does it mean that organisations such as the NCT in the pay of state can unilaterally kill cash?”

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