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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:15 pm 
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Thousands of taxi drivers in nationwide protest over better Government supports

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Thousands of taxi drivers have taken part in a nationwide protest calling for better supports from the Government as the industry struggles to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

More than 1,500 drivers took part in the demonstration as part of a campaign for an improved financial package.

The protest caused widespread traffic disruptions in parts of Dublin city centre.

The event, organised by industry unions, started at Phoenix Park before travelling to Government Buildings.

Protests also took place in Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

Drivers spent months without work during the lockdown, and while many businesses have reopened, the industry is still struggling with a lack of demand.

David McGuinness, chairman of Tiomanai Tacsai na hEireann (TTNH), said that taxi drivers are asking for an income subsidy if they return to work or no cut to their Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) if they cannot go to work, particularly if they are over 66.

They are also calling for a stop to issuing new licences to new taxi drivers when there is not enough work for those out there.

Mr McGuinness added: “During the pandemic there was a clandestine meeting between the (Dublin) city manager and the Department of Transport where one of the issues brought up during that was to ban taxis from using the bus lanes. The use of bus lanes is essential for the taxi industry.

“We are also want an extension of the age of the vehicle.

“Currently there is a 10-year limit on the age of the vehicles and because of the pandemic most of the drivers haven’t worked to pay back loans or pay house insurance. We asked the NTA (National Transport Authority) to extend the vehicle age licence for two years to give drivers a chance to re-establish themselves.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Government strategy had not shown fairness or that everyone was in it together.

He said the protest was the biggest taxi protest ever.

He told the Dail: “And for them, although they make their livelihood on the road, or used to, there is no roadmap, there is no respect, there is no fairness.

“You’re ignoring them. Their incomes and their livelihoods have been decimated.”

He said they are stuck between a “rock and hard place” as to whether to stay on the PUP or go back to work and have “hardly any customers”.

“All of the things they rely on to make an income gone or drastically reduced. And you’ve given them nothing,” he added.

He said that the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan’s suggestion of removing them from Quality Bus Corridors (QBC) or bus routes “would kick them when they are down”.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin pledged to look at measures that would enable people to claim PUP but also earn some additional income.

He added: “By the way, he’s (Eamon Ryan) clear of the view that they are not going to be stopped or banned from any QBCs or bus corridors.

“He made that point clearly to me this morning. That’s not on the agenda at all and he was a bit nonplussed on how it got on the agenda, but anyway he’s saying that’s not going to happen in relation to bus connects, so he’s very clear about that.”

Mr Boyd Barrett added: “I welcome the fact that the crazy suggestion, wherever it came from and it did seem to come from Eamon Ryan, that taxi drivers would be removed from the bus lanes, that that’s been withdrawn.”

He added that taxi driver turnover is down by around 50%.

Sinn Fein is to table a motion in the Dail calling on the Government to have “meaningful engagement” with driver representatives and introduce reforms.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:07 am 
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Here's hoping they get listened to.

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