THE ROW between the Dublin Airport Authority and the taxi drivers, who withdrew their services to passengers for two days, once again highlights the importance of the Metro North project, controversially shelved by the Government last year, it has been claimed.
Swords-based councillor and long-time advocate of the Metro project, which would have linked the airport to the city centre, Cllr. Darragh Butler (FF) called on the Government to rethink their decision in light of last week's dispute, which erupted after the DAA withdrew 70 car parking spaces in an overflow area from taxis. Cllr. Butler said: ' No matter how good a bus and coach service that may be in place, you cannot beat a direct rail network bringing travellers to and from Dublin City Centre and other locations along the way. '
He said the dispute only highlighted the importance of the now deferred public transport infrastructure. 'I once again call on the Government to reconsider their decision to abandon the Metro North and Metro West projects and to bring forward their review planned for 2015 which in my option will be simply prove to be a next general election pre-election gimmick.' FF's transport spokesperson, Deputy Timmy Dooley claimed the situation had a hugely negative impact on the tourism industry. 'First impressions can be lasting and it's clear that Ireland's image as a tourist destination is taking a hammering as visitors arrive at the airport expecting to take a taxi to their accommodation only to find a bitter stand-off between taxi drivers and airport managers. Public transport is no alternative for many tourists with heavy luggage and particularly those of advancing years.'
Deputy Dooley added: ' Taxi drivers are going through a very difficult time and they are an integral part of the smooth running of the airport. The DAA should have gone through the proper consultation channels before making any changes. When 70 car parking spaces are taken away from taxi drivers like this, some sort of agreement should have been sought in advance before making this decision.' The dispute was eventually resolved after marathon talks last Thursday night. The agreement saw the 70 parking spaces that had been at the centre of the dispute reinstated to taxi drivers for a two-week period, with talks taking place during that time to find a more permanent solution.
Meanwhile, FF Senator Darragh O'Brien said he had been in contact with both sides and welcomed the news that there was now a process in place to find a long term solution.
' There's an agreement now in place to reinstate the 70 spaces on an interim basis and the DAA needs to learn lessons from the dispute.' He accused the DAA of acting unilaterally in removing the spaces, which prompted the action from the taxi drivers.