Sunday 22 September 2019

Dublin-based chauffeur who drove Foo Fighters to Belfast gig accused of operating without taxi licence

Shane Devine
Shane Devine

Ciaran Barnes

The limo driver who took the Foo Fighters from Dublin to Belfast for the band's Boucher Road concert was told by staff from the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority that they were considering impounding his car.

They accused Shane Devine - whose previous jobs have included driving Britain's Queen Elizabeth around Ireland - of operating without a taxi and PSV licence.

The 44-year-old, who has been locked in a legal battle with the DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority) for four years, denies the claims.

After an intervention by his solicitor, Denis Moloney, he was allowed to return to Dublin from the Monday night Foo Fighters gig in his limousine.

A witness to the stand-off told Sunday Life: "It was really heavy-handed stuff, there was DVLA staff there and police with dogs. I felt sorry for the driver, the way the DVLA was carrying on you would have thought they had pulled over a major criminal, not a limo driver out doing a day's work."

Mr Devine's case was listed in court the following day and in an unprecedented move, it was revealed the DVLA has applied for a public interest immunity certificate (PIIC) to protect the identity of the complainant.

PIICs are normally only sought in cases involving State secrets, and it is highly unusual for one to be asked for in a row over a taxi licence.

Lawyers for Mr Devine are demanding the DVLA tell them who the complainant is and if their client has been under surveillance on his trips to Northern Ireland. Within minutes of dropping the Foo Fighters off at their Belfast concert, he was surrounded by DVLA staff, leading to suspicions that he was being followed.

Mr Devine operates the Dublin-based Devine Chauffeur Services, which has a fleet of over 40 cars and 60 staff.

The businessman argues that he does not need a taxi licence for Northern Ireland because when he drives stars across the border, he is booked for a continuous service which originates and terminates in the Republic of Ireland.

He first appeared in court last year when he was accused of flaunting DVLA rules by driving boy band One Direction from the Culloden Hotel to the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.

Mr Devine's case was moved to the High Court, which referred it back to Belfast Magistrates Court.

At a hearing last Tuesday, his solicitor explained that at the heart of the matter is the argument over what constitutes a taxi. He said his client would be resisting DVLA attempts to have a PIIC introduced to protect the identity of the complainant, whose name Mr Devine wants made public.

Magistrate George Connor rescheduled the case for September 10.

Belfast Telegraph

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