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Dotti, change the way you lead. Lead the way you change. That pot candy show with Marter, private trust, Ireland's leading private hospitals with locations nationwide, including Dublin, Cork and Limerick. This is News Talk. Taxi drivers from four representative groups are staging a mass protest in Dublin City Center this morning. Up to 1500 drivers are making their way from the Phoenix Park to to government buildings. And the drivers demands include the provision of a weekly subsidy to cope with increased costs associated with the pandemic.
Now I'm joined by Jim Waldron, who is a spokesperson for one of the organizations, the National Private Hire and Taxi Association.
Jim, good morning. Good morning. But where exactly are you guys now and how many have turned up? Well, I'm just in Park Street in the convoy, so to speak, at the moment, there's more than fifteen hundred. We're not we're not. We're pleasantly surprised, but not shocked that more people turned up today. The traffic, the queue of taxis goes all the way back up past Chappellet and around towards Euston Station. We've had to divert.
We're now told you say something to John's Road because there's no room on Coningham Road and along the park now at the moment.
So you're in Pakistan. Are you at the top of the motorcade? No, I am.
I'm in the middle of it. Basically started 20 minutes ago. We haven't got across the bridge Union Station yet, Mike. I'm very familiar with the area.
So I know you're about a mile from O'Connel Bridge, as it were. You're heading for where exactly which roads are going to be blocked?
Well, there's no roads blocked, but we are on the roads. We're heading down along the KS, down as far as most place. Take a little stand around that turn right over Muttalib, a bridge and not the main square. That's the route we're taking. And this is a great more than a way with the police. This is what the police want. OK. With more than 1500 taxis, I mean, they all won't be able to park around Merrion Square.
Well, we've been assured that there's 980 spaces set aside for us in Madison Square, Main Square and the surrounding areas. And we'll have to arrange things and we'll get down there, maybe try and park head to tail or whatever. Just get arrested. Lawyer present.
OK, so, Jim, what do you want from the government? We made this presentation to the government to tell the committee back in July, and we've had no response basically from that committee. We met the minister last week and the minister said he was going after discussion with the MTA. So we're disappointed that the Department of Transport have had no provision for us. They have no power to sit on us. And that's the first thing we want them to do.
We want them to remember us because they haven't remembered us up to now. So it's important that they realize that the taxi industry employs 26000 people and it's falling apart at the seams. So that's why we're out on the streets today. The drivers who are here today want to be recognized as human beings with a profession and they want to stay in the profession. I cut the end of your last article there about other people moving away from their industries. Well, that's the way it's happening now with the taxi industry.
Already, people have left the industry and some people want to get out of the industry. But you have a lot of financial commitments. So we're looking for the government to try and help people by taking back the place, which makes the industry better for the people who stay in it. So there'll be less people walking, stop issuing new plates, which they continue to do to this pandemic, which is crazy. And we're looking for the minister to sit down and talk to people within the industry and not the taxi advisory committee, as it's known, which is outweighed by other interests and not the taxi driver.
We're also looking for a financial package made up which would like to sit down with the government to discuss both in the financial package. We would hope that there be a wage subsidy so that taxi drivers could go back to work. The problem at the moment is that if you go off a pandemic payment as of Thursday, you can't come back onto the pandemic plan. And so drivers in a dilemma, do I sit and wait, which 300 a week or so I go out and try and make more than 300 grand a week.
So that's that's the predicament we're in.
In addition, ministers talking about dumping you guys out of bus lanes. Oh, absolutely.
I'm glad you mentioned because it slipped my mind. You know, you take it for granted sometimes that, you know, you're the taxi driver and you'll always be in a position. We were led to believe that one of the wish lists of the secret I can't estimate with a million and some other people from the Green Party was that one of the wish lists was that we should be removed from the bus lines. Now, obviously, taxi drivers where we are door to door service, we're very good at what we do and hear from people coming from shopping centers, film from we also are very much part of the business community.
We transfer transport people around from the business community around. These people don't want to get into buses. They want to get into a taxi and they probably have a meeting, whether in the taxi, actually. And the last thing they want to be doing is sitting in traffic.
And for me to be a little concerned, we know we know the Hajazi uses taxis all the time. So the idea that you're moving a patient from A to B for a particular treatment, say, from a nursing home to a hospital or whatever it is, and that that patient is going to set in the normal traffic in a taxi. I mean, what would be the point of taxis? Who's going to pay for a taxi that's going to sit in the traffic?
They must bring their own car.
Yeah, you made your point and you just mentioned the Hajazi, if I could just throw this one in, one of the things that we asked the government to do was to try to be creative, to create work for the USA and the skill, all that type of thing. They all had shortages of buses and all, but they never consulted taxi drivers. I mean, they take the taxis who can easily do some of that work. And this is what we're looking for, the government to open the mind of trying to think outside the box and try to create more work for us.
It's not all about just money and cost and the government and the taxpayer money. That's not what we're about. We're trying to be creative and we're trying to help the industry survive. We need to lose by trying to us at the moment to help us stay afloat. And then hopefully we will be able to sustain that. And people who are in the industry can keep it, keep the living and keep walking, you know, for good in the community, because that's what I believe taxi drivers are.
We pick up the slack when the buses don't pick up people after hours. Taxi drivers face major problems. Apart from what we're facing now, financial and mental issues at the moment, every night of the week, we have to deal with other people who have financial mental problems. And it's a difficult enough job and we need the government to help us out.
Well, the government will certainly be aware of your presence today in Marion Square. Jim Waldron, national private hire and taxi association spokesman, thank you very much.
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