|Black-Clad taxi widows in Brussels debt
Examiner 10-10-2001 Ann Cahill, European
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
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.