Thursday, 29 April 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Deputy. There is only one law and those are the laws that are passed by us, including the Deputy, here in this Oireachtas. The Garda is responsible for enforcing the laws we enact here in this Oireachtas. That is what gardaí have to do.
Regarding taxi drivers, the Government acknowledges that they are among the groups that have suffered the most in this pandemic, not in health terms but certainly in economic terms. We all know their business is heavily dependent on tourism and people attending events and availing of hospitality. As a result, they have seen a very major reduction in their incomes.
I have met taxi drivers, at the Deputy's suggestion, and I am following up on some of the issues they raised with the Minister for Transport, Deputy Ryan. Most are self-employed and, as a result, can access a range of Covid-19 financial supports, including the PUP and the credit guarantee scheme. The Department of Transport has waived licence fees for 2021 at a cost of €2.6 million.
Taxi drivers eligible for the PUP are also allowed to continue to work and receive the payment. There is an income disregard which allows taxi drivers to earn up to €960 every eight weeks, net of any expenses, without jeopardising their entitlement to the payment. That is not only a crucial lifeline for those who, through no fault of their own, cannot work in the way they did previously but will also be an important financial support for drivers once they return to work and until passenger demand returns to more normal levels.
As I mentioned, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Ryan, met the taxi representative groups twice last year. I understand officials from the National Transport Authority, NTA, have been in regular dialogue for months with groups representing taxi drivers. The Minister and officials from his Department remain available to meet taxi representatives, as they would with any lobby group or representative organisation. Officials have also been engaging with the advisory committee on small public service vehicles. A meeting of the committee will be attended by the Minister, Deputy Ryan, today.