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Social media and ad campaign to highlight need to respect taxi drivers

A video of an assault on a Dublin taxi driver emerged on Easter Monday.

Home Help Protests Source: Wanderley Massafelli/Photocall Ireland

THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT Authority is to launch a campaign this month highlighting the need to respect taxi drivers in Ireland. 

According to an NTA spokesman, messages on social media and at bus stops will highlight the campaign, which has been in the pipeline for several months. 

Joe Herron, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation (ITDF), has said the NTA’s new campaign highlighting the need to respect drivers is partly a result of “taxi drivers leaving the industry due to problems” and that the campaign aims to show that taxi drivers are humans, too.

On Easter Monday, video footage of a racist attack on a taxi driver went viral on social media.

The video shows a passenger racially abusing and then attacking a taxi driver on Easter Sunday night while driving along Dublin’s Malahide Road. The passenger can be heard shouting racial slurs at the driver before he attacks him physically. 

The dashcam footage has been viewed thousands of times. Gardaí are now investigating the incident and have confirmed that the passenger has handed himself in. 

Following this attack, there have been calls for increased security for taxi drivers in Ireland. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline yesterday, several taxi drivers spoke about the abuse and violence they’d experienced behind the wheel.

One taxi driver from Nigeria described how he lost sight in one eye after being attacked on Dublin’s Bolton Street while another spoke about how he lost his front teeth after being attacked while on the job. “[People] think because they’re paying you a few quid they can give you abuse,” he said.

‘Inreased security’

Fianna Fáil local election candidate Daryl Barron has said taxi drivers in Ireland should start using panic buttons or put up partition in their taxis to divide the front and back seats. This, he said, “could help protect taxi drivers across the city avoid any unprovoked incident”. 

“Dash cam footage helps identify the culprits or can hopefully act as a deterrence. But it can’t totally prevent harm or fully protect the physical safety of drivers in their cabs.”

The NTA previous examined whether or not taxi drivers want mandatory security measures implemented. 

A 2015 report found that – of the 2,649 submissions the organisation received – over 97% said safety equipment in vehicles like taxis shouldn’t be mandatory.

Partitions could lead to a “perception of poor customer service”, the report says, and that is “a risk which would ruin the reputation of the sociable Irish driver”.

Herron of the ITDF agrees. “One of the great things about getting a taxi in Ireland is that you can sit beside the driver and chat to them.”

Herron says, however, that more and more drivers have started using CCTV in their taxis in recent years, which automatically uploads to cloud technology. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline yesterday, Sam, the driver who was attacked and is who is originally from Nigeria, said that he hoped the passenger was held to account for his actions. “What I want is justice, equity to prevail,” he said.

Earlier this month, Dublin Inquirer reported on issues affecting Dublin’s ethnic minority taxi drivers, including calls for the NTA to specifically address issues of racial discrimination within Ireland’s taxi industry.

The NTA spokesman told TheJournal.ie that the new awareness campaign around the need for respect for all taxi drivers is due to launch within the next three weeks. 

“I hope that it’ll awaken in some people…that taxi drivers are people and not there to be abused,” Herron has said. 

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