Tuesday 21 October 2014

Racism probe after Glasgow cabbie tells brothers to stop speaking Irish

Greg Harkin

Published 09/01/2014 | 02:30

Anthony Blair (right) with his brother Joe, who were ordered by a cab driver in Glasgow to stop speaking Irish, pictured at Croke Park. NewspixIr

A COUNCIL in Scotland is investigating a taxi company after a race discrimination complaint by an Irish speaker.

Anthony Blair (20) and his brother Joe (22) were visiting their grandmother in Glasgow when a cabbie ordered them to stop speaking Irish.

Student teacher Anthony said he had assured the driver he wasn't talking about him.

Glasgow council are now investigating the taxi company after a race discrimination complaint by a cousin -- Kathleen McAleer -- who was also in the cab at the time.

"I was sitting with my back to the driver, in the back of the taxi, and I was just chatting to Joe," said Anthony, who is a student at St Patrick's College in Dublin and a native Irish speaker from Gweedore, Co Donegal.

"It's just natural for us to chat in Irish. I asked the driver what he thought the fare would be and he told me and I turned around again to talk to Joe in Irish.

"The driver then said: 'You can't speak that language in my taxi.' And I was a bit stunned and I asked him: 'Why?'

"He said we were talking about him and I assured him that we weren't, but he told us if we didn't stop speaking Irish we should get out -- that we were in Britain now and should be speaking English.

"So he stopped the car and told us to get out. I believe he just didn't want us speaking Irish and was nothing to do with us supposedly talking about him."

Cousin Kathleen McAleer (21), who is from Glasgow, challenged the driver.

"I told the driver he couldn't behave like that, and he said if you are in Britain you should speak English," she said. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing."

Hampden Cabs refused to comment but a spokesman had told the 'Glasgow Evening Times' that a driver had been subjected to sectarian abuse on the night of a Pogues concert in the city.

However, the Blairs weren't even in Glasgow on the night of that concert. Glasgow City Council said it has launched an investigation.

"A complaint regarding an alleged racist incident has been received and will be investigated in the appropriate manner by the council's taxi enforcement team."

Irish Independent

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