Taxi drivers and retailers fear they will be 'sitting ducks' for criminals
Thousands of taxi drivers across the country are expected to stay at home if gardaí go out on strike out of fear they will be "sitting ducks", according to the head of the National Taxi Drivers and Private Hire Association.
Christy Humphrey, general secretary of the association representing 5,000 taxi drivers nationwide, predicted "it will be chaos" for drivers, who fear they will be robbed by criminals taking advantage of the absence of gardaí.
Drivers are also worried there will be "carnage" on the roads because other motorists are more likely to drive in bus lanes and commit other road traffic offences such as speeding due to the lack of gardaí.
He predicted about half of the association's membership would refuse to work on the days gardaí go on strike.
"People will be dubious of going to work," he said. "Drivers feel like sitting ducks. It's bad enough as it is now when there is garda back-up."
One driver, who did not want to be named, wrote to the association out of concern that drivers would be susceptible to thieves as they are a cash business.
"Dealing with the public is dangerous enough at the best of times as a taxi driver, but without back-up from the gardaí, I think we are very susceptible to petty crime and an open target, especially since we're a cash industry and at the coal face," he wrote.
Other business owners say they will have to dig into their own pockets to hire security and extra staff to prevent being targeted.
Damian Duggan, owner of Duggan Jewellers in Fairview, north Dublin, and head of the Fairview Business Association, said all retailers - especially those dealing primarily in cash sales - were nervous.
"Everyone is putting in contingency plans," he said of fellow jewellers. "Although we all have the most up-to-date alarms and security in place, we're going to have to be vigilant."
But the extra security measures are going to cost the business owners, who are still struggling to recover from the recession.
And it's not just high-end retailers such as jewellers who are concerned. "Anywhere that's handling cash is going to feel vulnerable," he said.