3,000 plan to sit drivers’ exam in the coming months

TAXI drivers have threatened to create traffic gridlock in Dublin and elsewhere unless the Government responds to its call for a cap on driver numbers.

The third protest in as many weeks in Dublin yesterday brought more than 300 taxi drivers onto Molesworth St in Dublin city centre, where they called on Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to meet with them to discuss plans to limit new taxi driver numbers.

Committee members of the Taxi Drivers for Change group delivered another letter to Leinster House addressed to Mr Dempsey, and also delivered letters to each TD and MEP.

Afterwards the taxi drivers marched to the GPO and leaders of the committee warned their protests will escalate unless the Government takes action to address their concerns.

Reading from the letter sent to Mr Dempsey, one of the founding members of the Taxi Drivers for Change committee, Jim Waldron, said: “We know you continue to bail out other industries. What about us?

“You are leaving us with no alternative — our protests will most likely have to escalate.”

He said urgent action was needed to prevent more than 3,000 people planning to sit the taxi exam in the coming months from doing so, at a time when drivers had to work up to 70 hours a week to make a living.

One of those protesting yesterday, Noel Brennan from Raheny in Dublin, said: “Every week it is getting bigger but the dispute will really start if people start bringing their cars in — it will be mayhem.”

Fine Gael transport spokesman Fergus O’Dowd met the members of the committee at the gates of Leinster House, while the protest was addressed by Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald and Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party.

Ms McDonald said: “Time was when taxi drivers in this city could make a living — that time is long gone. It is not acceptable to you as workers and it is not acceptable to the travelling public.”

Joe Higgins said the current working conditions faced by taxi drivers were “anti-family” and that there was “no need for thousands more” taxis.

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