Taxi drivers warned against ‘nationality’ lights

A taxi watchdog has warned drivers to stop using additional green lights on car roofs amid concerns they advertise nationality.

The National Transport Authority issued the order after a raft of reports in recent weeks about extra bright lights above the standard yellow rooftop signs.

The authority insisted it had not seen a prevalence of the signs but said they were illegal.

“Any such lights, regardless of the reason for their display, are contrary to rules relating to customising taxi roof signs and should therefore be removed,” said a spokesman.

“In relation to alleged usage of signs to denote nationality, we note that the National Transport Authority will not tolerate racism in any form nor from any source, driver or passenger.

“The authority takes any incidences of discrimination extremely seriously and refers all such matters to the authorities with the power to investigate such complaints.”

The National Private Hire and Taxi Association said the green lights had been visible on cabs around the country for about five months. The group suggested the idea originated in Spain, where the small bright lights are a common “for hire” sign.

Spokesman Christy Humphrey said it was about generating business rather than race.

“It’s illegal to do it, to advertise on the roof. There are regulations for the signs. But it was about generating business. I can’t actually see how somebody can say it’s to identify an Irish driver when they are available to everyone. Some of the roof signs are so old and faded you can’t see if it’s on.”

John Usher, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation, said none of his members had reported drivers using the lights.

“I don’t see how you could match this up — a green light for an Irish driver,” he said.

“But if there’s a trend developing out there and they think they are going to advertise Irish we’d be totally against that.

“We... would be very quick to go about our members and stamp it out. It’s not something we want and they’d be told to remove them, pronto.”

The National Transport Authority said any allegations of racism among drivers will be passed on to the gardaí or the Equality Authority to investigate.

“In recognition of the multicultural society we are living in, a module on diversity and equality was included in the small public service vehicle driver skills development programme launched in 2009,” said the spokesman.

“All new entrants since May 2009 have had to sit this driver skills programme, which results in a certificate on successful completion of both the industry knowledge and area knowledge modules.”


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