Currently, a person who holds a learner permit has to be accompanied by a fully qualified driver before they can get behind the wheel of a car; but, does that apply to tractor drivers?

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, recently explained the situation in response to a parliamentary question from independent TD Mattie McGrath.

Deputy McGrath asked Minister Ross to provide clarification on the proposals to introduce new penalties for learner drivers, specifically the possibility of confiscation of farm or commercial vehicles, and whether or not he held consultations with agricultural or other stakeholder bodies on the issue.

Commenting on the matter, the minister said: "In 2016, the Oireachtas decided to create an offence for the owner of a vehicle where the vehicle is driven by an unaccompanied learner driver.

"As the provision contained drafting flaws it was not possible to commence it, and I shall be proposing to amend it to make it fit for purpose during the passing of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017 through the house.

"I have also indicated that I will propose an amendment to section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994, which allows An Garda Siochana to detain vehicles in certain circumstances. My amendment will add to the list of those circumstances cases where the vehicle is driven by an unaccompanied learner.

"Both the 2016 provision and my proposed amendment to the 1994 Act relate, of course, to classes of vehicle where the law requires a learner to be accompanied by a qualified learner driver. These are the B, C, and D categories - cars, minibuses, buses, vans and trucks.

There is no requirement for a learner to have a qualified accompanying driver for the A categories - motorbikes - or for the W category, which covers tractors.

"The new legislation therefore has no impact of any kind on tractors," Minister Ross concluded.