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City hospital says it's not for turning over taxi-rank ban

A TOP Dublin hospital says there is no prospect of it reopening a taxi rank, despite increasing protests from drivers.

St James's Hospital insisted the new system of having a sole operator is working "very satisfactorily".

A spokesman told the Herald problems had arisen with the rank, including incidences of verbal intimidation and racial abuse of St James's staff.

He said the behaviour of some taxi drivers was "unacceptable" at times and occurred "in front of both attending patients and public".

Another issue concerned traffic congestion, with taxis competing for passengers.

Among the problems were illegal parking and the blocking of the road and main entrance to the hospital. "This resulted in major congestion and difficulties for patients, ambulances and general public gaining access to the hospital," the spokesman said.

John Ussher, of the Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation (ITDF), said St James's should have contacted industry representatives if there had been problems.


"If that was the case, it is something we would not agree with. We would have sat down with the hospital and tried to resolve any of the issues.

"We do not and would not want people misbehaving and if that was causing problems up there it should have been brought to our attention," Mr Ussher said.

He added that his organisation would have "stamped that out with immediate effect" had they been told. The hospital is now served solely by cab company Global Taxis as part of an agreement between the two sides. There is also a free-call service in place allowing members of the public to phone for a taxi free of charge from the hospital main entrance or from the emergency department.

St James's said the new system has been welcomed by patients and visitors.

Taxi representatives have asked Dublin City Council to provide a rank just outside the grounds of the hospital. However, Mr Ussher said a phone must also be provided if the rank is to work. Up until recently, drivers used to wait outside the main door of the hospital.