SF amendment on taxi regulations defeated
Fianna Fáil senator Labhrás Ó Murchú broke rank with party colleagues to support a proposed Sinn Féin amendment to the Taxi Regulation Bill. The amendment, which was overwhelmingly defeated, would have required consideration by a court of the terms of the Belfast Agreement in determining whether a person applying to hold taxi licences should be refused.
Kathryn Reilly (SF) said a key provision of the agreement was intended to facilitate the reintegration of prisoners into society by providing assistance directed at enabling them to get employment. That provision placed a legally binding obligation on the Irish government in terms of job opportunities.
A judgment in the Northern Ireland courts had bolstered this entitlement, while the acknowledgement by the British government that they were willing to meet their obligations in this regard placed an onus on the Irish Government to act in a likewise fashion.
Seán Barrett (Ind) said that as the approach being suggested could be replicated in Northern Ireland, in the context that Ms Reilly had eloquently described, he thought there were lessons that could be learned in this jurisdiction as well.
Minister of State for Public and Commuter Transport Alan Kelly said the point at issue was the safety of passengers who were in a vulnerable position in a taxi. The grounds for disqualifying persons from participating in the industry had been narrowly defined.
There was provision for an appeal to the courts, so exceptions were possible where the courts determined them to be appropriate.
Independent senators Seán Barrett, David Norris, Katherine Zappone and Feargal Quinn supported the Sinn Féin amendment while Independents Jillian van Turnhout and Rónán Mullen voted against.
Consideration should be given to cutting the pensions of politicians and other high office holders by 20 per cent, Fidelma Healy-Eames (FG) said.
Such cuts should also apply to bankers who had got huge pensions from the state as a result of the bank capitalisation.