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Quote:
Attacks by cab drivers on rise, warns taxi boss
From:The Irish Independent
Saturday, 10th January, 2004
Sorcha Crowley

SERIOUS attacks on passengers by taxi drivers have increased dramatically since the industry was deregulated three years ago, according to the National Taxi Drivers' Union (NTDU).

"I'm aware of allegations of up to a dozen rapes and sexual assaults," said NTDU vice-president Vinnie Kearns yesterday.

He said that he was aware of a number of taxi drivers who had been convicted of drug trafficking - with some of the fines exceeding €3m - of other cases still pending, and of two drivers found dead in their cars from overdoses.

"Drug-related incidents, allegations of rapes, sexual assaults, and incidences of over-charging have all increased," he said.

"I believe that a lot of this is down to deregulation, in that there was no introduction of a strict vetting criteria and qualification for entry into the business after deregulation."

He called on Transport Minister Seamus Brennan to speed up the appointment of a regulator.

"We are three years into deregulation now. It is incumbent now on the Government to make sure that the necessary changes are brought in as soon as possible," he said.

He said that overcharging had also increased and 70pc of the complaints made to the Garda Carriage Office related to overcharging.

The NTDU has urged drivers to be vigilant to ensure their vehicles are not being used to ferry drugs.

The warning came after two drugs raids carried out by gardai in Waterford which involved taxis ferrying passengers who turned out to be carrying drugs - one of them with €130,000 of drugs.

The union said that there was concern that if the problem was not stamped out, it could grow.