Taxi drivers shocked at shooting of ‘ordinary man'
Gardaí trying to establish if driver shot over taxi fare argument
Jerry Brennan, general secretary of the National Irish Taxi Association, said attacks against drivers had been going on for some time. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Taxi organisations have expressed shock at the shooting of a driver in Dublin on Tuesday night. The victim, named locally as James Boylan (59), North Circular Road, Dublin, was shot at least twice in the legs after a dispute broke out with two passengers he picked up in Dublin city centre. The married father of two brought the passengers to Dunsoughly Drive housing estate in Finglas at 8.30pm on Tuesday and a dispute broke out and escalated.
One of the men produced what gardaí believe was a handgun and fired a number of shots at him, wounding him in both legs.
Mr Boylan was taken by ambulance to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, where he remained last night. His injuries have been described as serious but not life-threatening.
He has spoken to gardaí briefly and officers investigating the shooting are hopeful he may be well enough in the next 24 hours to speak to them at length.
Garda sources said Mr Boylan had had no involvement in any form of crime. Detectives are trying to establish if he was shot as part of an argument over a taxi fare. The two attackers fled the scene and gardaí were yesterday continuing their search for them.
Gardaí have appealed to anybody who was in the area who may have witnessed the shooting or two men running from the area to come forward and aid the investigation in confidence.
John Ussher from the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation said he was shocked at the news. “All any taxi driver wants to do is to go out, earn a night’s wages and return home safely to his family and, if anything prevents him from doing, that it should be dealt with severely by the courts,” Mr Ussher said.
“Anyone who takes a gun to someone should be charged with attempted murder.”
Jerry Brennan, general secretary of the National Irish Taxi Association, described the shooting as horrific and said it was “quite shocking” that someone would get into a taxi with a firearm.
He said attacks against drivers had been going on for some time.
“I worry for our society if an ordinary man trying to make a living for his family in tough circumstances can be shot.”
He said there was a time when “doing a runner” from paying a fare was something occasionally considered by young men as part of high jinks, but over the last few years that had changed. Members had told of having passengers who would direct them to an address and then walk away.
“People are just blatantly and brazenly turning around and saying ‘I’m not paying you’, they step out of the car quite casually and just walk away,” he added.
He also said such incidents happened frequently and were not reported to gardaí.
“It’s a constant in the consciousness of taxi drivers,” Mr Brennan said.
David McGuinness, spokesman for Tiomanaí Tacsaí na hÉireann, said in the last two months there had been five seriously violent acts perpetrated on taxi drivers going about their business.
He also said non-payment of fares was not treated properly in the courts. Offenders were often told to make a donation to the poor box.
“No one gets charged for the act of stealing from a taxi driver, but if you steal from a shop you can be facing a jail sentence.”