Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that the response from the Government has been to give the bare minimum of support for taxi drivers.
Teachta Crowe this is a vital sector that needs to be given the full backing it needs to ensure its viability in the midst of the COVID recovery.
Teachta Crowe said:
“I have been asking a series of questions of the Government about how we can help the taxi industry remain viable in the midst of the COVID pandemic and I have to say, I’m not impressed with their responses.
“When I put questions to the Minister for Transport about a possible stimulus package, I was given a spiel about all the work that the Department has done for taxi drivers such as temporary licence waivers, guidelines for cleaning, and ‘interaction with the insurance industry’.
“I do not believe this is any more than the very bare minimum of what the Government should have been doing when the industry was so heavily restricted by COVID.
“Clearly, the Department has no plans to support the industry properly or have any grasp of the severe consequences should drivers have to leave the industry. They seem completely oblivious to the struggles that taxi drivers are facing.
“When I put questions to the Minister for Social Protection about the reduction in the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, I was told that taxi drivers with dependents may be better off applying for jobseekers.
“This is a wholly unacceptable response as drivers do not want to be applying for welfare benefits. They want to be supported as they fight to save their livelihoods in the face of COVID-19. As more people return to work and our transport network comes increasingly under pressure, taxi drivers will be essential to keeping our country moving.
“This government needs to wake up and recognise the importance of taxi drivers and be supporting the sector fully. Their approach so far has been to do the very bare minimum and take a laid back approach to any sort of financial backing or stimulus. It is typical of the haphazard approach that they have pursued throughout the COVID restrictions, particularly when it comes to transport and travel.”