|TAXI families demand share of licence
Examiner 15-10-2001 Mary Dundon
A SHARE of the £24.5 million made by the Exchequer from the sale of new
taxi licences must be given to the families left destitute by deregulation
of the business.
This was the demand of taxi driver’s families who protested outside the
Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in Dublin yesterday.
Many taxi families who bought licences just before deregulation were left
with repayments of £120,000 on an asset which is now worth £5,000, their
spokeswoman, Theresa Beegan, said. “We are not against deregulation — all
we want is fair compensation for an asset which is now almost worthless,”
Their lobby group, Families Against Immediate Redress (FAIR), has just
returned from Brussels where it made a formal complaint to the
commissioners, the ombusdman and competitions authority.
“We want the EU to look at our case seriously and give us equal
competition and a level playing pitch,” Ms Beegan said.
She accused the Government of inconsistency in dealing with the
deregulation in different industries. “When they bought back the salmon
licences from the fishermen, they paid them the going market price but the
value of our licences fell completely,” she said.
FAIR claims the tax breaks given to the taxi families in this year’s
Finance Act was the maximum they can claim of £3,000 a year. “But these
are no good — how can that help someone who has borrowings of over
£100,000?” she asked.
The ones who are worst hit are the widows who saw the licences as their
pension before deregulation. “Now they are left high and dry because the
tax breaks are worthless to them since they have no trading or leasing
income,” Ms Beegan said.
The FAIR spokeswoman said she had borrowed £80,000 just two weeks before
Minister Bobby Molloy deregulated the taxi industry. “I will be paying
back £724 a month for the next 14 years,” she said.
It was unjust to bring in overnight deregulation without carrying out an
impact study on how it would affect taxi families, Ms Beegan claimed.
“We will not go away, we cannot afford to. This campaign will continue
until we get justice,” she said.