Mooney regrets non-national taxi driver remark


Fianna Fáil Senator Paschal Mooney issued an apology to the Seanad yesterday for earlier stating he would not get into a taxi driven by a non-national.

“I made a personal statement to the house in which I withdrew any comments I made that were to be inferred as being discriminatory in any way and apologised. As far as I am concerned that is the end of the matter,” he said last night.

Earlier he indicated he would always seek out a local taxi driver rather than a non-national driver because of his concerns they didn’t know their way around.

“I wasn’t the only one who made reference to drivers particularly in Dublin... who didn’t know their way around,” he said last night.

His comments in the Seanad came when the house was discussing the Taxi Regulation Bill, which passed second stage.

Minister of State for Public Transport Alan Kelly took issue with a claim by Seán Barrett (Ind) that proposed new powers to prevent certain taxi drivers from obtaining or retaining public service vehicle licences amounted to double jeopardy.

Mr Barrett had criticised a provision in the Taxi Regulation Bill to withhold licences from operators convicted of serious criminal offences.

Mr Barrett contended that the wish of parliament to improve taxi service standards should not be used as a back-door method of reintroducing a limit to licence numbers “which gave us an appalling industry in the past”.

The Minister had stated there were about 6,000 taxi drivers who had some form of criminal conviction.

Mr Kelly said an economic analysis had indicated that there was an oversupply of between 13 and 22 per cent in the current taxi fleet.

The Bill represented the most comprehensive review of taxi regulation carried out in the State and he was confident that its new enforcement provisions would be broadly welcomed by the industry and consumers.