Taxi policy re-think essential, says report

THE Government should stop issuing new taxi plates immediately and rethink its entire taxi policy, the Oireachtas Transport Committee heard yesterday.

The call for a deregulation turnaround came as a new European Parliament report heavily criticised the Government’s Taxi Hardship Panel and the manner in which it was doing its work.

Despite agreeing a figure of 15m to compensate drivers who bought plates at a high cost before deregulation, the Government’s hardship panel has not yet allocated a single cent to families in financial difficulty two and a half years after deregulation.

The report, published yesterday by the European Parliament Committee on Petitions, branded the Government’s hardship scheme as inadequate and derisory and recommended that Transport Minister Seamus Brennan submit new proposals to Government. The report also called for urgent consideration to be given to providing for families affected by deregulation.

The EU committee believed the issue was so serious that it took the unprecedented step of travelling to Ireland earlier this year to speak with Minister Brennan and the Oireachtas Transport Committee. Minister Brennan will now have to respond to the EU Committee’s findings or face being called before a plenary hearing in Europe.

Meanwhile taxi hardship group FAIR yesterday told the Dáil Transport Committee that taxi incomes had dropped by 36%. Fair chairwoman Cathy Darling said IIB home loans had reported a 30% default rate in the home loans of taxi drivers.

“People lie awake at night worried about what to do and two and a half years on not one cent has been paid. Individual families should not be held responsible and they should not be left suffering,” Mrs Darling said. “We cannot afford to wait any longer. The strain is impossible to comprehend,” she continued.

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