Jobless receiving grants to become taxi drivers
Michael Brennan Political Correspondent
PEOPLE on the dole are getting grants to become taxi drivers, despite the fact that there are 27,000 taxis looking for business.
Under a back-to-work scheme, the long-term unemployed can get a grant of up to €1,000 to go into the industry and can also retain their social welfare payments on a reducing scale for four years.
The revelation came at the Oireachtas Transport committee yesterday, which heard that there are now more taxis in Dublin than in New York and that taxi ranks across the country are jammed with drivers desperate for business.
Fine Gael transport spokesman Fergus O'Dowd said that while he supported the re-training, there was no point putting them into an industry that was over-supplied.
The Department of Social and Family Affairs has not been able to provide details so far of how many unemployed people it has partially funded to set up in the taxi business.
The committee heard that the situation for consumers has been transformed since the taxi industry was deregulated in 2000.
Fianna Fail Dublin South East TD Chris Andrews said that the need for competition had to be balanced. "There does seem to be a rigid adherence to the principle of competition irrespective of what effect that has on ordinary people trying to make a living," he said.