Fahey rejects findings of report on taxi industry


Thu, Mar 26, 2009

COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT: THE RECENT Goodbody review of the taxi industry was rejected by members of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport yesterday, with committee chairman Frank Fahey telling the report’s author to “go away and rewrite it”.

Mr Fahey said he did not accept the “methodology” of the report which found that deregulation and market forces were achieving a balance between supply, demand and economic viability in the industry.

Nor did he believe the report had properly addressed critical issues including taxi sharing by drivers, fraudulent licences, the livelihoods of drivers and the issue of a moratorium on new licences.

Mr Fahey expressed particular concern that the report’s author Brendan Feeney was unable to tell the committee how many public service vehicle licences had been issued, but, he said, was able to draw conclusions including conclusions about drivers’ incomes.

“One of the problems is the huge numbers of drivers driving one car and no proper control,” he said. He maintained illegality was “almost impossible to detect” and told Mr Feeney: “I cannot accept the conclusions.”

He said two years’ work on the part of the committee were at variance with the Goodbody report. Mr Fahey said the committee now saw a situation “where people in the taxi industry cannot earn even a minimum wage”, which was preventing the introduction of the higher standards required by all.

To this end the committee had supported a call for a moratorium on the issuing of new licences.

Addressing taxi regulator Kathleen Doyle, Mr Fahey expressed doubt she was given the resources to regulate the industry properly. He said there were just nine enforcement officers available and when one arrived at taxi ranks in Galway, “about half the taxis disappear from the rank”.

Labour TD Tommy Broughan said “we don’t have regulation of any kind” and added “nine people to regulate 30,000 [taxi drivers]. It seems ridiculous.”

Copyright 2009 The Irish Times

Taxi drivers hold 24-hour national stoppage


Mon, Mar 30, 2009

Taxi drivers are holding a 24-hour stoppage today in protest over conditions in the industry.

There were no reports of major traffic disruption as a result of the stoppage which began at 4am today and will continue until 4am tomorrow. Protesting drivers tonight vowed to step up their campaign for better working conditions.

The protest is likely to mean that few taxis will be available nationally, although the unions have said that they will still provide services in emergency cases.

Members of the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation, National Private Hire Taxi Association, Siptu taxi branch, and Taxi Drivers for Change are picketing popular taxi ranks in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

The National Taxi Drivers’ Union (NTDU) is not officially part of the protest as there was not sufficient time to ballot members under its union rules. However, NTDU president Tommy Gorman said drivers are unlikely to work during the other unions’ protest.

Taxi Drivers for Change said it will be occupying ranks in Dublin and in cities and larger towns, using vehicles to take up space on ranks, but refusing to take fares. They will stop drivers who don’t take part in the protest from using ranks to ply for hire.

The drivers for change group is not a union but has a growing membership nationally, many of whom are members of established unions.

Spokesman Jim Waldron said nine out of 10 taxi drivers around the country backed its day of action.

“Around 500 men took part in the picketing of ranks and we had 90 per cent support throughout the industry,” said Mr Waldron.

“There was a lot of interest and anger.

“Most drivers did not pass the pickets and respected the protestors so obviously we had an effect."

According to AA Roadwatch, the protests are not currently having an impact on traffic although it warned that this could change as the morning progresses.

Unions warned of an escalation earlier this month following a meeting with Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey where he refused to reject a report, compiled by Goodbody Economic Consultants, which recommended against a moratorium on the issuing of new licences.

John Ussher, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation, which organised today’s protest, said the union had tried the diplomatic route with the Minister and taxi regulator Kathleen Doyle but this had failed. “We feel that an obstacle course is constantly being put in our way.”

Siptu taxi representative Jerry Brennan said the Goodbody report had been “the last straw” which made protests inevitable.

Copyright 2009 irishtimes.com