Mistake ‘to tip taxi drivers on crackdown’
ROGUE taxi drivers should not have been told in advance about a garda crackdown over the weekend, according to the head of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation (ITDF).
Around 2,700 taxi drivers stayed off the roads in the capital during a clampdown on drivers with serious criminal convictions.
Officers were also targeting those who were in breach of vehicle safety rules and were not properly licensed.
Transport Minister Alan Kelly announced the operation before last weekend. But president of the ITDF, John Usher, has now questioned that decision.
"I was very disappointed with the clampdown to be honest. If you are trying to catch a mouse you do not let it know you are there," he told the Herald.
"Undoubtedly there was a major difference on the roads over the weekend.
"A lot of drivers disappeared and there are suspicions about why they disappeared," he said.
Mr Usher said that any future garda operation into rogue taxis should not be announced.
But a spokesman for the minister defended the decision to announce the clampdown before it was enforced, calling it a deterrent and a preventative measure.
"This is typical policy for garda action," he said.
He said that the initiative was led by gardai, who had requested that the minister help to launch it.
Gerard Macken, who is on the National Transport Authority's (NTA) taxi advisory committee and is a member of the Taxi Alliance of Ireland, estimated that there were 25pc fewer taxis operating in Dublin last weekend.
He said that some estimates placed the figure at close to 33pc of all registered drivers.
Mr Macken advised taxi passengers to download the driver check phone application, which allows people to check the status of their drivers.