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My husband took his own life because of the crisis in taxi industry

THE heartbroken widow of a taxi driver who took his own life as a result of the recession has begged for more help for drivers facing financial strain.

The taxi industry has been rocked by two suicides within a week among city drivers who were unable to cope with the pressures of the recession.

The tragic deaths of the two men, both understood to be in their forties, has sparked another outcry about the drastic situation facing taxi drivers who are under financial strain.



Burned

Kevin Jones-Evans (49), originally from Clonshaugh, Dublin took his life on Monday July 5, and another man burned himself in his car in Smithfield on the night of Wednesday July 7.

Kevin has been described as a "good" man who was well-liked in the industry, but he could no longer cope with his shockingly low income.

Denise, Kevin's distraught wife said he "hated" going to work, and she blamed financial worries on her husband's death.

"My husband was tormented by the way it [the industry] was gone. The Government has an awful lot to answer for with the strain they put the men under. They have them tormented."

"He [Kevin] hated work. He hated having to get into the car. We're devastated and I don't know what else to say."

Denise's sister Elaine told the Herald that Kevin was plagued by the fact that he struggled to make enough money for his family to survive.

"He was under extreme pressure. He couldn't make a living on the taxi. Denise and Kevin were constantly chasing their tails trying to make a living."

"His kids were his life, he was so proud of them but there was the financial strain of the tuition fees, they didn't get the grant. There should be more done for people."

Denise, who was married to Kevin for 21 years, has called for help for others facing a similar situation to Kevin.

"We have to continue on, but nobody is dealing with the strain that drivers are under. The Government don't want to know.

"We desperately hope that Kevin's death can help prevent any more drivers' suicides and prevent even one more family going through the suffering we are," she added.

Another worried taxi driver, Niamh, told FM104's Adrian Kennedy that a second man died after he set himself alight inside his car in the same week.

"This guy set himself on fire in his taxi, if that's not sending out a mess age I don't know what is."

Last August, three taxi men from Dublin who were close friends also took their own lives in the space of one week.

Referring to this, she stressed: "There are three men on the slabs in morgues and three families are devastated. One was hard enough to swallow. These are all men in their 40s. They knew what they wanted and they wanted out. And God love them."

One of the taxi drivers, Ollie Courtney (43) from Drimnagh, Dublin took his own life on August 28, leaving his family devastated.

His widow Sharon told the Herald yesterday: "It brings it all back. Next month Ollie will be a year dead and I don't like to hear things like that [more suicides]."

"I understand what those people are going through and I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

Meanwhile, taxi union officials have been blaming deregulation for the scourge on taxi drivers, along with strict fines by the gardai and the Commission for Taxi Regulation.

President of the National Taxi Drivers Union Aidan Moore said: "Am I surprised? No I am not. I have very close friends in the industry who are all feeling the pain at the moment."



Repossessed

John Usher from the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation added that he's aware of nine suicides amongst taxi men in the last year.

"A lot have had their cars repossessed, their houses repossessed, they've left the business and they've suffered strokes and heart attacks, and unfortunately some people deal with it differently."

Jerry Brennan from Siptu added that taxi drivers are "lucky" to earn €50 a day of gross income.

hnews@herald.ie


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