Taxi drivers hold Dublin protest over ads on vehicles

Over 300 taxis take part protest causing traffic congestion on College Green

Taxi driver Christopher Gorman from Glasnevin takes part in a protest on Molesworth Street outside the Dail in mid-January 2014. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Taxi driver Christopher Gorman from Glasnevin takes part in a protest on Molesworth Street outside the Dail in mid-January 2014. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 20:15

Over 300 taxi drivers protested in Dublin city centre this afternoon against a proposal to remove the right of drivers to advertise on their vehicles.

The National Private Hire & Taxi Association (NPHTA) and Tiománaí Tacsaí na hÉireann (TTNH) organised the rally which took place between College Green and George’s Street.

“Only authorised advertisements will be allowed on vehicles if this proposal is passed,” said Dave McGuinness, chairperson of TTNH. “Anything authorised requires a payment,” he added.

Taxi drivers are unhappy with a plan put forward by Minister for Public Commuter Transport Alan Kelly’s to remove the right of taxi drivers to advertise on their vehicles. Drivers were also out to highlight the misuse of a transport phone application.

Transport for Ireland offers a taxi driver check app on their website which taxi passengers can use to verify their driver’s licence and registration. According Mr McGuinness, the application can be tampered with and is being used illegally. “Any profile can be changed without the owner of the profile knowing about it,” said Mr McGuinness.

Mr McGuinness says a sub-committee of the taxi advisory committee wrote to the Minister last week asking him to make a statement about the misuse of the application but that he refused. Mr McGuinness says that Mr Kelly is now “putting the public at risk”.

Meanwhile, David Franz, who has been a taxi driver for 14 years, is fed up with the working conditions. “This is what the situation will be like when they remove all the taxi ranks during the Luas construction,” said Mr Franz, a member of TTNH, referring to the traffic congestion building up outside Trinity College.

“The whole taxi industry is in a state, it’s spiralled out of control since the Taxi Regulation Act in 2003,” said Mr Franz, “I work on average 12 hours a day, 7 days a week just to make ends meet.”

Christopher Humphreys from the NPHTA said that it was important to hold the rally before the taxi advisory council meets on Tuesday.

A similar rally in mid-January by taxi drivers protesting over the loss of taxi spots around the city and the introduction of specialist wheelchair accessible vehicles caused severe traffic disruption around Kildare Street.

Jim Waldron, spokesman for NPHTA, said at the time that taxi drivers were worried wheelchair friendly taxis would take business away from existing drivers.

There are plans to close ranks in Stephen’s Green, Dawson Street and O’Connell Street during the extension of the Luas line.

A garda spokeswoman confirmed that despite the traffic congestion, there were no incidents arising from today’s protest.