Taxi drivers say sorry as firms count the cost
DUBLIN city centre businesses put the cost of yesterday's mass protest by taxi drivers at more than £500,000.Angry business leaders last night condemned as ``absolutely disgraceful'' the action which brought traffic to a standstill and caused chaos to thousands of commuters and shoppers.
``We will not accept a group of people believing they can use mob rule like this. The city deserves better,'' said Tom Coffey, chief executive of the Dublin City Centre Business Association.
The taxi drivers took to the streets over the £15,000 cost of a wheelchair accessible taxi licence a hike from £100 the increase of the vehicle licence renewal fee from £7 to £450, and the absence of a fare rise, among other grievances.
But as their controversial protest came under attack from several quarters, a spokesman issued an apology for the gridlock they had created and said it had never been their intention to grind Dublin to a halt.
``What happened, shouldn't have happened. Everything went wrong and I hope what happened yesterday will never happen again,'' said John Ussher, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation.
Mr Ussher conceded that the protest had turned public opinion against the taxi drivers and their case. He said his federation would be sitting down to review what had occurred.
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce joined in the condemnation describing as ``outrageous'' the fact that a group within the service sector could flagrantly abuse their position to resist actions they did not agree with.
``How much longer can one group of workers in the city hold the rest of the workers in the city to ransom?'' the Chamber asked.
Dublin's Lord Mayor John Stafford said and commercial life had been totally disrupted.
The taxi drivers were promised a review of their main grievances by Dublin Corporation at a meeting which is scheduled to take place next Tuesday.