Taxi families say Brennan hardship plan is a sham

THE Dublin-based lobby group that represents the wives, widows and partners of pre-deregulation taxi drivers yesterday described Transport Minister Seamus Brennan’s plan to ease their hardship as a sham.

FAIR Families Advocate Immediate Redress said many families, who were still repaying €900 per month for their taxi plate, would not receive a cent from the promised €15m hardship fund if Mr Brennan proceeded with his taxi hardship report as it stood.

Some individuals and families borrowed heavily to fund the purchase of taxi plates on the open but limited market. A taxi plate could cost up to €108,000 (£85,000) before deregulation was introduced. Since deregulation, a taxi plate costs €6,000.

"We are not looking for a blank cheque book, we are simply fighting for those suffering real injustice and hardship to be dealt with fairly," said FAIR spokesperson Cathy Darling

"These innocent families will be eliminated because the ruthless criteria in this report requires them to prove that they have gone into arrears on their mortgages."

The lobby group expressed annoyance and disappointment at Mr Brennan's stance after what FAIR described as an "unfruitful" meeting in the Department of Transport yesterday morning.

Ms Darling said they found it totally unacceptable that Mr Brennan was proceeding with the implementation of the recommendations of "a unilaterally rejected flawed report" while ignoring the fact that the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport had unanimously rejected the hardship report.

She cited the European Parliament Committee on Petitions, which had backed the FAIR claim for justice. Committee chairman Nino Gemelli had formally addressed a report to Mr Brennan on April 30 last in which he said the Government "does have a moral and political responsibility to provide a proper redress" to the taxi families.

A spokesman for the department said the Government had accepted the hardship panel's report providing €15m and Mr Brennan had responded to FAIR's request to speed up payments.

For this purpose the minister had put in place an independent system and the agency concerned, Area Development Management, had advertised for people seeking hardship payments to make their applications. The minister was anxious that payments under the hardship scheme should begin before Christmas.

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