Environment Minister Sammy Wilson yesterday refused calls to retract comments he made stating that Northern Ireland’s MoT system is absurd — despite later stating the test had “a significant impact on road safety”.
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs Jnr said Mr Wilson should publicly withdraw remarks, made last month, about the “stupidity of the rules” concerning driving without an MoT.
In October it emerged Mr Wilson was fined £40 for riding his motorbike without tax or MoT.
The minister, who has responsibility for road safety in Northern Ireland, was caught by a camera detection unit on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast — a short distance from the Stormont Parliament Buildings.
The East Antrim MP was taking his bike to a garage to have it serviced for an MoT test. After receiving the fine and being ordered to pay back-tax for the vehicle, Mr Wilson failed in a bid to have the fixed penalty dismissed.
Speaking to the Telegraph’s sister paper the Sunday Life he said it was not an oversight by him and called for a review of the law.
“I'm very annoyed with the stupidity of the rules. You can drive a vehicle if it has failed the MoT but you can't drive it to the garage before it goes through the test,” he said.
“I still think the interpretation of the law, in the eyes of most people, would seem to be absurd.”
However, the minister later told the UUP MLA for East Antrim that his department has taken many approaches to promote the law concerning the MoT test and vehicle tax.
“In his personal reply he was able to tell me that the DVA has taken a number of actions, these have included the issuing of vehicle test reminders to vehicle owners shortly before a test is due, the publication of an information leaflet on vehicle testing and its impact on road safety, and most recently, the introduction of the mandatory display of vehicle test certificates, with an associated publicity campaign,” Mr Beggs said.
“Each year we have a large number of accidents and fatalities on our roads, it would be terrible to think that some of those accidents were attributable in any way to people driving without an MoT certificate.
“The fact that the minister called the law ‘absurd’ is particularly galling.
“In the public interest I believe he should retract his comments about the ‘stupidity of the rules’ concerning driving without an MoT.”
A DoE spokeswoman told the Belfast Telegraph: “The minister stands by his comment.”