Criminal taxi drivers could lose licences within weeks
Taxi drivers with serious criminal convictions have been warned that they face losing their licences within weeks.
Transport bosses have begun the process of stripping drivers of their licences if they are found to have committed serious crimes.
In a letter written by the National Transport Authority, seen by the Irish Independent, drivers with convictions are told that they must present themselves to garda stations by May 6.
They are further warned that they face the prospect of "mandatory disqualification" depending on the nature and seriousness of their crimes.
The letter was sent just months after the enactment of legislation, granting the authorities powers to remove taxi licences from criminals.
It's believed that 6,000 taxi drivers have a criminal conviction. The legislation will attempt to remove murderers, rapists and former IRA members from the industry.
However, the Irish Independent has learned that bodies representing drivers are seeking legal advice as to whether those with "historic" convictions should present themselves at garda stations.
According to the correspondence from the NTA, anyone who fails to notify the gardai of serious convictions, or those who provide false information, will be liable for prosecution.
The list of offences includes sexual offences, firearms offences and vehicle theft.
Those who have committed certain public order offences, such as assault and affray, are also warned that they must present themselves. It's not clear exactly when a driver could be stripped of their licence following the May 6 deadline but sources last night said it could happen within weeks.
"This is all bound in legislation. If someone presents themselves and is found to have amassed serious convictions, the instruction is to withdraw their licence," said a source.
However, unions have voiced widespread concern about the letters, which were sent out in recent days.
Jim Waldron, of the National Private Hire and Taxi Association, told the Irish Independent that his officials will discuss the NTA demands next week.
"There is a lack of detail in this letter and certainly we have concerns.
"We will be taking legal advice on the matter," he added.
A spokesman for the NTA was unavailable last night.