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Monday 5 December 2016

Exclusive: Rickshaw drivers selling weed, cocaine and pills while working in city centre

*Drivers charging set prices for drugs
*Locks on seats to protect stash

Published 22/11/2016 | 09:57

Rickshaw driver in city centre
Rickshaw driver in city centre

A number of rickshaw drivers operating in Dublin City Centre are selling class A drugs while they work, Independent.ie can exclusively reveal.

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Our reporter approached rickshaw drivers working in the capital and each of them confirmed they had drugs for sale.

These recordings reveal how the drivers are selling weed, cocaine and pills while working on our capital's streets.

When asked to show the pills, one of the drivers lifted up the seat of his rickshaw to reveal where he was keeping his supply.

Another stated that they weren’t “selling tonight” as gardaí were in the area and it was “too risky”.

Each driver had the same set price, indicating that they may be working under the same supplier.

A source told Independent.ie that some drivers keep locks on their seats to conceal their stash of drugs in case of a spot check by gardaí or Revenue.

It is believed that up to 20 rickshaw garages are currently in operation across Dublin, with two garages located on Montague Lane near the popular nightlife area of Harcourt Street.

The main business for rickshaw drivers comes from picking up punters as they leave pubs and clubs, with the majority of drivers being of Brazilian nationality.

However, the drugs business is said to becoming increasingly popular with rickshaw drivers as a way to make extra money on the side.

A lock on the seat of one of the rickshaws
A lock on the seat of one of the rickshaws

Some rickshaw drivers use the work as a means of learning English and maintain that they can’t get any other work in Dublin.

One driver, when asked why rickshaws had such a bad reputation, he responded: “Because of drugs, but most of us are good guys”.

Recently, the Department of Transport and National Transport Authority (NTA) insisted they have “no powers” to regulate the uninsured rickshaws in Dublin city.

Rickshaws have been growing in numbers and taxi drivers and councillors have been calling for regulations to be introduced.

A rickshaw driver showing the 'red pills'
A rickshaw driver showing the 'red pills'

 Fianna Fail's spokesperson on the National Drugs Strategy Jack Chambers TD, said: "Many people will be shocked to learn this practice is happening in such a public and organised way.

"That rickshaw operators are engaged in drug dealing like this is very concerning, particularly when it is almost entirely young people who use them and normally after they have consumed alcohol, making them more vulnerable.

"This further highlights the need for Minister Shane Ross to finally act to restore some control with regard to rickshaws."

Sinn Féin TD Séan Crowe, who has previously called on the Government to address the problems being caused by rickshaws, says he’s not surprised by the revelations.

“I am not really surprised that they may be selling drugs, as they are being sold everywhere. Kids as young as 12 sell them out my way," he told independent.ie.

“I just think it is out of control. I did write to Shane Ross and his reply was that he recognised there was a need for greater regulation, but it was going to be later on in the period of this Government.

“There’s definitely a need for this to be prioritised by the Government. We are just abandoning people’s safety.”

The issue of rickshaw regulation was recently raised in the Dáil and Minister for Transport Shane Ross says he will be able to outline a time frame for the legislation in due course.

“My Department is now engaged with the NTA to clearly frame the policy to guide any detailed legislative drafting, with passenger safety the key focus. I will consider the legislative proposals which emerge when this work has been progressed, following which I should be in a position to outline an indicative legislative timeframe.”

A garda spokesman said: "We would advise anyone who is aware of criminal activity to report it to their local Garda station were the matter will be fully investigated."

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