Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Timmy Dooley TD, has criticised the announcement today by the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Alan Kelly, of new taxi regulations.

Among the regulations announced today is a directive that all taxis will now have to be branded while a new penalty points system will be introduced whereby taxi drivers could face a possible three month driving ban if directives are broken.

Deputy Dooley commented: “I have grave concerns over the new penalty points system that will be introduced. There was no detail given, no criteria and this is an industry where the workers are already under immense pressure.

“There is a genuine fear that taxi drivers will be penalised for plying for hire, which means if a taxi rank is full and they park behind it they will be penalised. If that is the case a lot of taxi drivers would be off the road within a week given the scarcity of official taxi tanks throughout the country.

“A lot of these regulations were introduced at the start of the year and he seems to be drip-feeding them bit by bit to the media. This is causing huge confusion within the taxi industry.

“The Minister talks about introducing legislation but he gives no timeline, taxi drivers are in the dark as to when these changes will come about.

“Will the cost of the branding be borne solely by the taxi drivers? It could be as much as €200 per car and I am calling on the Minister to work with the local authorities to figure out a way in which the cars can be branded at an affordable price, either by putting a contract out to tender or by using existing resources.

“This is an industry that is already struggling and taxi drivers need some respite, more clarity is needed about these proposals and the taxi driver unions need to be consulted fully and comprehensively.”