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Black-Clad taxi widows in Brussels debt protest
Examiner 10-10-2001 Ann Cahill, European correspondents 

A GROUP of 91 women, all dressed in black, took their fight for justice to the steps of the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday in the wake of the Government’s decision to deregulate the taxi industry.

The women, many of them widows, are left paying off debts of over £100,000 for taxi plates that are now worth less than £5,000.

Some, like Theresa Beegan, mortgaged their home and are now in danger of losing it.

The women have tried to get the Taoiseach to listen to their case for justice, but he told them he is too busy to meet them.

They tried to get Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy to hear them, but he replied to each of them with a standard letter.

Now they have asked three EU Commissioners, the EU’s ombudsman and the Petitions Committee to take up their case.

“This is just the start,” said Cathy Darling, chairperson of FAIR the organisation formed just three months ago.

“We intend to turn up to every event the Taoiseach is at and protest. We are not against cheaper taxi plates, or more taxis on the streets.

“But we and our families should not be made into victims. All we want is fair play,” she said.

They are ready for a long battle and already have a war chest of over £15,000 that helped them fly to Brussels yesterday.

Rita Fernandez’s husband left no will when he was killed in a car accident and so her children had to pay probate tax to the government on the £75,000 value of the plate.

Worse was that she lost her £200 a week income from leasing the plate when the Government deregulated the taxis without warning.

Sandra Hanaphy was left the plate by her father in his will. He left property to her sister. She still had to pay tax to the government on the full value of the plate, even though by the time the money was due, the plate worth £5,000.


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