Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke today reaffirmed Sinn Féin’s support for taxi drivers who have been forgotten by the government in the Covid-19 response.
His comments come as thousands of taxi drivers protest in the capital today and ahead of a Sinn Féin motion supporting the drivers, which will be debated in the Dáil tonight.
Speaking today, Teachta O’Rourke said: “Covid-19 has severely impacted on the income of taxi drivers. Despite being an essential service for communities, many taxi drivers are now struggling to make ends meet.
“According to evidence given to the Oireachtas Covid Committee, 23% of drivers in the industry are aged over 66 and are not eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
“This meant many older drivers were forced back to work early during the pandemic, despite the advice being for older people to reduce their close contacts at that time.
“The collapse of international tourism and of the night-time economy has reduced business to a trickle. However, the government simply don’t recognise this.
“Today, thousands of drivers are protesting highlighting the huge frustration felt by the industry and calling on the government to put proper supports in place for them.
“The taxi drivers’ calls aren’t just for financial assistance, but for regulatory reforms that will help them weather this economic downturn.
“This would include a pause on the issuing of new licences until normal levels of economic activity return, reform of the Taxi Advisory Committee, continued access to bus lanes and a temporary two-year extension to the rule that requires taxis to be less than ten years old.
“Sinn Féin will put a motion to the Dáil tonight calling on the government to have meaningful engagement with driver representatives and introduce these reforms as a way to give taxi drivers a break and to keep our taxis on the road.
“Taxis provide an essential service in our transport network, many people with disabilities rely on taxis daily and taxi drivers should be recognised by this government for the contribution they make.”