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Taximen face garda probe for blockade

GARDAI are to investigate whether any action will be taken against Dublin taxi drivers, following last night's strike.

Dublin city centre was suffocated during the action which affected thousands of homeward bound commuters.

The drivers have threatened to increase their action today by holding more city-centre protests and withdrawing from Dublin airport.

"People have a legal right to protest but this must be balanced with the rights of the public to get to where they're going," the Garda Press Office said today.

Two taximen who occupied a hallway in the Commission of Taxi Regulation were due before the High Court today.

The men had refused to leave the building until the minister met them but the High Court ordered the two men -- Thomas Barton and Patrick Walsh -- to leave the building. Judge Mary Laffoy granted an injunction preventing trespass of the offices.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said the protestors needed to talk to the regulator to address the issues.

"The occupation of offices and other disruptive actions such as those at the airport does nothing however to address the challenges which the industry is facing,'' he said.

John Usher, of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation, claimed new rules will hit drivers in the pockets -- including an 8,000pc hike in the price of a licence, annual tests on vehicles and a ban on any car over nine years old from carrying passengers.

Labour Transport Spokesperson Tommy Broughan T.D. has asked Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to urgently address the ongoing crisis in the taxi industry.

"Taxi drivers and their representatives have constantly requested a meeting with Minister Dempsey to discuss the ongoing dysfunctional regulation of the taxi sector and its impact on entry and licensing standards, pay and working conditions," he said.

Meanwhile, recent reports that eleven out of every 12 people who apply to become taxi drivers are failing the necessary test on their first attempt have done little to inspire support from the public.

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