Friday 9 December 2016

‘I get daily racist abuse for being a coloured taxi driver’

Gordon Deegan

Published 05/01/2012 | 05:00

A NIGERIAN taxi driver, who is a qualified accountant, has revealed how he receives daily racist abuse and is scared to work as a cabbie in Ireland after suffering two assaults by passengers.

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Married father-of-four Bartholomew Omoifo (36) spoke out as a man was jailed for viciously attacking him in his car.



"For a coloured man, working as a taxi driver is very dangerous. I am afraid to go working because of previous experiences. One is very scared."



Azriel Higgins (26) was jailed for nine months at Ennis District Court yesterday for the assault on Mr Omoifo on June 5, 2010.



Mr Omoifo said that he had been the victim of a subsequent assault by another passenger just four months ago.



He admitted: “It is very tough as a black taxi driver. If I had a choice I wouldn't be working as a taxi driver but I have to support my home."



Mr Omoifo earlier told the court that Higgins, of Creggaun, Tobarteascain, Ennis, Co Clare, called him a "bastard nigger" before headbutting him in the mouth knocking out two front teeth.



Higgins -- who pleaded guilty to the assault and has 14 previous convictions -- attacked Mr Omoifo after refusing to pay a €15 fare.



Mr Omoifo required four stitches with dental work costing €2,400. Damage done to the taxi cost €761.



He described the assault as "very, very traumatic". He said: "I suffered needlessly. I have two false teeth now and I was out of work for three weeks."



On the daily racist abuse, Mr Omoifo said: "Passengers flag you down, open the door and when they see you are coloured, they say 'F*** off'. I get this every day."



He added: "I am relieved that I have been given the privilege in court to state what really happened. I have been given respect. At least it shows me that there is justice for us and gives me the assurance that the protection is there and we can get justice."



He has been living in Ireland for eight years but believes that some people are "venting their anger at the economy" on immigrants.

Irish Independent

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