Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today called on the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to outline his and Fine Gael’s dealings with Uber, in light of the revelations contained in the Uber files and the Tánaiste’s recent promotion of the company.
Teachta O’Rourke also said it was deeply worrying that a former top civil servant turned lobbyist offered to drop a note from Uber directly to the Minister for Finance’s home, meaning it would not form part of the official departmental records.
The Meath East TD said:
“Just last month, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was on the airwaves promoting Uber as a solution to the current taxi shortage.
“At that time, I criticised Fine Gael’s proposed deregulation of the taxi market, highlighting that it would undercut thousands of taxi drivers and start a race to the bottom when it comes to terms and conditions. I called for the proposals to be resisted.
“The Uber files published over the weekend now present the Tánaiste’s comments in a new and questionable light.
“The leaked files show how the company lobbied Fine Gael, using the former Secretary General of the Department of Finance as a go-between who offered special access to his ex-boss, the then Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, and other senior Fine Gael ministers.
“In one leaked internal report, Uber claimed to have helped write a part of the 2016 Fine Gael election manifesto relating to the sharing economy, with an aim of helping the company break into the Irish taxi market.
“One very concerning revelation is the leak which highlights the former Secretary General offered to drop a note from Uber to the Minister for Finance’s home, meaning it wouldn’t form part of the official departmental records.
“The former top civil servant is also reported to have given an unspecified document to the then Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, when she was over for lunch at his house.
“These revelations highlight a very cosy relationship between big business and Fine Gael and raise serious questions.
“In view of lobbying tactics deployed by Uber, the special access they had to ministers, and Fine Gael’s recent promotion of Uber specifically, I believe the Tánaiste should outline all his engagements with the company to date and indeed all the dealings the company have had with senior government ministers here.
“The introduction of the Uber business model here would spell the beginning of a race to the bottom and would decimate the taxi industry. It must be resisted.
“Instead, we need a comprehensive and coherent plan to deliver a public transport system that meets the needs of the population, including at night-time and at weekends.”