Taximen planning to protest over the influx of new drivers
TAXI drivers are organising a national protest to express their frustrations at the influx of new drivers around the country and to demand a three-year moratorium on the issuing of new licences.
According to organiser Jim Waldron, drivers' livelihoods are under threat. The number of people entering the industry, as well as a sharp drop in business from large companies, has placed severe limits on what drivers are earning in the trade.
"Drivers are staying on an extra couple of hours a night trying to get an extra few quid, he said, warning: "I truly believe some time in the future there's going to be a tragedy with someone falling asleep at the wheel.
"We want to put the spotlight on the regulation commissioner, Kathleen Doyle, to recognise that there are enough taxis," he added, claiming this will put pressure on Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey to issue a moratorium.
Figures released by the Commission for Taxi Regulation show that a total of 25,695 Small Public Service Vehicle licences were issued in 2007. By 2008 this had jumped to 27,429. Driver Brendan Byrne claimed the department sees the taxi industry as a "dumping ground for the unemployed", citing the €1,000 grant issued to jobless people to start a taxi business.
A statement issued by the Commission for Taxi Regulation claimed: "It is not within the remit of the Commission to place a moratorium on licences. The Commission's role is to regulate the industry by setting and enforcing minimum standards and maximum fares."
The Department of Transport did not wish to comment. Mr Dempsey has previously rejected calls for a moratorium.
The protest is set to take place in Dublin city on February 2.