Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr Jack Chambers
28 January 2016
Chambers urges taxi drivers to mobilise against ridesharing as Government fails to rule out illegal practice
Fianna Fail Dáil candidate in Dublin West Cllr Jack Chambers has urged the taxi industry to mobilise against ridesharing following recent signals from senior Government figures that the controversial practice could get the go-ahead in Ireland.
Ridesharing is a practice, popularised by taxi app company Uber, that allows motorists to offer paid-for lifts to the public. It is illegal in Ireland, with taxi regulations disallowing paying someone for a lift beyond the “reasonable cost of the fuel”.
However, in recent weeks, two Cabinet Ministers appear to have left the door open to ridesharing.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said at the opening of an Uber call centre in Limerick that it was “premature” to have the conversation on ridesharing, and that any move to introduce the practice here would need approval by the Department of Transport. In November, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe’s Department said officials there are “examining” Uber’s ridesharing proposals. Uber itself, which doesn’t pay its VAT in Ireland, has said it expects that after the election, it will be allowed to do this.
Councillor Chambers has said the Government is trying to bring in Ridesharing by stealth. “This ambiguity from Government on Ridesharing is undermining the taxi industry and ignoring the legal position. Ridesharing is illegal in Ireland – period. It is beyond comprehension why the Government can’t be clear about that. And, equally important, the Government seems not to appreciate that ridesharing would casualise the taxi industry, costing jobs and putting at risk passenger safety.
“Some 20,000 taxi drivers are out there making a living. They work hard, sometimes putting in long shifts to make ends meet. To get their taxi licence, they undergo some of the most stringent background and local knowledge tests in the world. It is not fair, either to them or to passengers, for the Government to allow just about anyone to charge for giving lifts to people. It disrespects an industry.
“Taxi drivers in Dublin and across the country should get behind a campaign to stop ridesharing. Whether through letters, phone calls or on social media, taxi drivers should make it clear to Minister Donohoe and the Government that they will not tolerate ridesharing. They won’t put up with a casualisation of their industry and the destruction of their livelihoods. They will not accept this Government’s ambiguity – its ‘mission creep’ approach – to ridesharing,” said Cllr Chambers.