There is 'undoubtedly' inconsistency in the quality of NCT testing at centres across Ireland, according to motoring journalist Shane O’Donoghue.
He was speaking after a new analysis found a 22% difference in the pass rate at two of the country’s testing centres last year.
The Independent.ie study found that the centre in Deansgrange in Dublin had a pass rate of 62.65%, while the centre at Derrybeg in Donegal had a pass rate of just 40.01%.
The national average pass rate at centres around the country was just over 54% - up more than 1.5% on 2021.
Meanwhile, there was a rise in the number of cars deemed unsafe to drive by NCT testers – with just under one-in-20 cars found to be ‘fail dangerous.’
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, journalist Shane O’Donoghue said cars in rural areas often get more wear and tear than those in the big cities.
“The thing is, in [Donegal], the roads are a little bit worse, people are driving longer - they are driving more on rural roads than they would for example in Deansgrange in the middle of Dublin - so that cars are subjected to harsher conditions, I suppose, more of the time,” he said.
“On top of all that - and this is a theory I think you would need to dig into a little bit more with the data - I suspect the age of the car is a little bit higher in Derrybeg than it is in the middle of Dublin, in the Deansgrange area.”
The survey uncovered a significant regional divide in pass rates – with nine of the ten centres with the lowest rates located in Connacht or Ulster.
Meanwhile, just one of the centres with the highest pass rates was located outside of Munster and Leinster – Ballinasloe in Galway.
Mr O’Donoghue said there is “undoubtedly” inconsistency in the quality of testing around the country.
“The test has been designed for that not to be possible of course,” he said. “It is black and white whether you fail in any particular area of the car; however, we have seen in the past there is massive inconsistency.
“We’ve also heard stories, of course, of people bringing cars back in that have had nothing changed since they failed the first time and then they passed the next time.
“So there undoubtedly is inconsistency in the testing and I guess that is down to human error and probably in the training as well – especially when the service was having difficulty in finding and retaining staff.
“There will be a variability in how good the staff are and some of the testers might gloss over some items every now and again. That is not ideal but it does happen.”
Mr O’Donoghue said there are “still major, major delays” for drivers waiting to get their tests; however, an extra 74 workers have been brought in from Spain and the Philippines to help with the backlog.
He said drivers can ask to be put on a priority list or call NCT centres on the day to see whether any last minute slots have opened up.
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