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Drivers fight ban on taxis older than nine years

TAXI drivers have launched a court bid to overturn a new ban on taxis more than nine years old.

A drivers' group is to appear in the High Court on January 19 in a bid to force the taxi regulator, Kathleen Doyle, to abandon the controversial rule that came into force on New Year's Day.

Thousands of taxis, including many luxury models in pristine condition, will be forced off the road this year if the ban continues.

And large numbers of drivers could lose their livelihoods as they are now unable to get bank loans to replace their vehicles, drivers warned.

Frank Byrne, spokesman for Tacsai Tiomanai na hEireann which represents 1,600 drivers nationally, said they are seeking a judicial review of the new ban on older vehicles on the grounds it is unfair and unjustified.

His group are welcoming approaches by taxi drivers in danger of losing their livelihoods as a result of the new ban. The legal team may include their individual situations in a test case against the ban.

They can raise their cases with the group by contacting ttnhlimited@gmail.com or 085-2157999.

Members of the public have expressed support to individual drivers when informed that well maintained large comfortable cars in top condition are being forced off the road simply on age grounds.

Mr Byrne said the Regulator said in 2008 the ban would be imposed in 2012 and many drivers entered into four year bank loans for vehicles. Afterwards, she announced it would start one year earlier than stated.

Many drivers are just unable to cope with this harsh new rule, he said.

He said 31pc of the national fleet of more than 20,000 taxis are going to be forced off the road this year if the ban is upheld. Two out of every three taxis currently operating will be banned within three years, regardless of the impact on drivers, he added.

One Dublin taxi driver, David Mulvany, showed the Herald his immaculate silver E220 Mercedes which he will not be allowed to relicense in July because it has a 99-D registration.

"My Mercedes can keep going for at least another 100,000 miles. It makes no sense to force me to stop using it. Taxis currently undergo an NCT test every year and also undergo an additional annual test to ensure they are in proper condition.

"That should be enough to ensure safety. I'm now feeling under terrible financial pressure," he said.

The taxi group is funding its legal battle with a fund-raising raffle which is offering a €20,000 prize, limited to 600 tickets.