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Criminal taxi drivers face licence threat

TAXI drivers with serious criminal convictions have been warned that they face losing their licences within weeks, the Herald has learned.

Transport bosses have begun the controversial process of stripping drivers of their licences if they are found to have committed serious crimes.

In a letter written by the National Transport Authority, seen by this newspaper, drivers with convictions are told that they must present themselves to garda stations by May 6.

They are further warned that they face the prospect of "mandatory disqualification" depending on the nature and seriousness of their crimes.

The letter was sent just months after the enactment of new legislation which grants the authorities powers to remove licences from criminals who are qualified taxi drivers.

It's believed that some 6,000 individuals have been flagged as having amassed criminal convictions. An Garda Siochana have been notified of the process and are set to cooperate with the NTA over the matter.

The aim of the legislation, is to ensure that serious criminals such as murderers and rapists are removed from the industry. The legislation will also ban former IRA members with convictions for murder from working as taxi drivers.

ADVICE

However, the Herald has learned that bodies representing drivers are seeking legal advice as to whether those with "historic" convictions should present themselves at their local garda station.

According to NTA correspondence anyone who fails to notify the gardai of their serious convictions, or those who provide false information, will be liable for prosecution. The list of offences provided to drivers by the NTA includes sexual offences, firearms offences and the theft of a vehicle.

Those who have committed certain public order offences, such as assault and affray, are also warned that they must present themselves at a garda station.

It's not clear when a driver could be stripped of their licence following May 6, however sources said this could take place within weeks.

"This is all bound in legislation. If someone presents themselves and is found to have have amassed serious convictions, the instruction is to withdraw their licence from the driver in question," said a source.

However, unions have voiced widespread concern about the letters, which have been sent to drivers in recent days.

A spokesperson for the NTA was unavailable last night.

NOCONNOR@HERALD.IE


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