Irish Taxi Driver Federation urges drivers to report racism to gardaí

‘There’s no room in this society for either racist or physical abuse’

Joe Herron from the Irish Taxi Driver Federation said dealing with verbal harassment from passengers was often part of the job of a taxi driver. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Joe Herron from the Irish Taxi Driver Federation said dealing with verbal harassment from passengers was often part of the job of a taxi driver. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

The head of the Irish Taxi Driver Federation has urged drivers to report incidences of racial harassment to their local Garda station following an attack on a black taxi driver earlier this month.

Dashcam footage uploaded to Twitter over the weekend showed an allegedly drunk male passenger hurling racist verbal abuse at his taxi driver before trying to hit the man. The passenger later presented himself at a Garda station. He was not arrested, according to gardaí.

Joe Herron from the Irish Taxi Driver Federation said dealing with verbal harassment from passengers was often part of the job of a taxi driver. However, drivers who were racially abused should report the incident to the authorities, he added. “There’s no room in this society for either racist or physical abuse. You don’t let racial slurs go without doing anything.”

Mr Herron said he had not come across racial abuse among drivers but often heard of passengers ignoring the taxi at the top of the line if the driver was black. However, there was no way of proving a customer chose not to enter the vehicle because of the driver’s skin colour, he said. “You’re entitled, for whatever reason, not to have to take the taxi. You might not like the colour of the car or the kind of wheels it has. You cannot be sure it was because the driver was black.”

Other drivers

Jude, a black taxi driver who declined to give his surname and who often parks at the taxi rank on Foster Place off College Green, said racist harassment also came from other drivers. He is an Irish citizen and has been driving taxis for a decade. He said he had recorded the racial abuse he had experienced in recent years in a diary.

“I have more trouble with the fellas on this rank than I have with passengers,” he said. “When a customer comes, the other drivers tell them I’m not a registered taxi driver and then they leave and go to them.”

Driver Ray Kamara said drivers at certain ranks made it clear they preferred seeing white drivers rather than drivers of colour in the queue. Passengers could also be problematic, he said. Most harassment happens at night.

“I work during the day so I would imagine most of the racial issues happen at night when people are drunk. I’ve not come across anything serious but I have friends who have come across problems. When people are drunk, they can’t control themselves.”

A white male taxi driver on Aston Quay, who did not give his name, has seen many passengers refuse to get into taxis driven by black drivers. He agrees that certain taxi ranks exclude drivers on the basis of their skin colour but argues that white drivers are also excluded for not being “one of the lads”.