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Deregulation nightmare for taxi drivers.
Examiner - 20-11-01

LARRY KELLY still remembers the day he bought his taxi plate in 1999. Back then, his future looked secure. The 39-year-old remortgaged his house in Raheny and got a loan that allowed him to fork out £75,000 for the plate.

He thought this licence would give him a job for life.

“I actually bought it off my father, because he was sick at the time and had to retire. We were sharing the plate before that, but the time was right and he needed the money. Just a year later, Larry’s world was torn apart when the Government decided to deregulate the trade he had worked in for the previous 14 years.

“Suddenly, everything changed. Before I could take the odd day off and spend some time with my kids. Now, I’m working all the time, and I still don’t have enough money.”

“My wife, Siobhan, had to go back to work because we were so short of cash. My two girls Michelle, 12, and Lauren, 10, barely see us these days. It’s just not fair.”

But Larry is still glad that he bought the plate from his father, who could have been left with a worthless asset.

“He really needed the money and, if I didn’t buy it, he would have nothing. He’s been in hospital a load of times since and I’m just glad that he wasn’t the one who suffered.”

The year following deregulation has been a tough one for Larry who is constantly under pressure to meet his repayments.

“My mortgage is £900 a month. I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to my car. I am just about surviving at the moment, but I have to work every hour I can.”

There are worse cases, though. Larry said that his greatest concern is for widows who were surviving on the profits they made for renting out their late husbands’ plates.

“These are the real hardship cases and we must ensure that we get compensation for these women. It’s still hard to understand why this happened. There are no winners in this.”


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