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2004
Criteria for qualification for a taxi drivers licence
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28 January 2004

To ask the Minister for Transport his plans to introduce the promised tougher criteria for qualification for a taxi drivers licence in view of concerns than an increasing number of people with serious criminal convictions have received licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Brendan Howlin. (Nominated by: Róisín Shortall).
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 28th January, 2004.
Ref No:   2118/04         Lottery: 62


Answered by the Minister for Transport
(Séamus Brennan)

REPLY

Under existing provisions in the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 2002 all applicants for licences to drive small public service vehicles, i.e. taxis, hackneys and limousines, must satisfy the Garda Commissioner that they are a fit and proper person to hold a licence, and that they have an adequate knowledge of general traffic regulations, the regulations relating to public service vehicles and the area in which they propose to make services available as a driver of a small public service vehicle.  All applicants for such licences are vetted by the Gardaí for the purpose of establishing if applicants are fit and proper persons to hold such licences.
The Garda Commissioner may at any time revoke a licence to drive a small public service vehicle if he considers that the holder of the licence is no longer a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.   It is of course open to individual licence applicants to appeal Garda decisions to refuse or revoke a licence to the courts.
Under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003, the principal function of the Commission for Taxi Regulation will be the development and maintenance of a new regulatory framework for the control and operation of small public service vehicles and their drivers.  This will include the overall development and application of new standards and requirements for drivers, licence holders and for vehicles. 
Pending the establishment of the Commission, I have indicated to the recently established Advisory Council to the Commission that I would be interested in their advice on a range of issues including the introduction of enhanced training and knowledge requirements for existing and new small public service vehicle drivers. 
Section 36 of the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 provides for a system of automatic disqualification from applying for or holding a small public service driver or vehicle licence in respect of persons who have been convicted of one of a range of very serious offences, including murder, manslaughter and various sexual, drug trafficking and other offences.  A person who is affected by these provisions can request the courts to allow them to apply for a licence in certain restricted circumstances.  In addition, where a person has been convicted  of one of a number of other serious traffic offences, he or she will be disqualified for holding a licence to drive a small public service vehicle for a period additional to any driving disqualification that is applied.  Section 37 of the Act also provides that the grant or renewal of licences will be subject to the production by the applicant of a tax clearance certificate.   
Decisions regarding the timing of the commencement of the above sections have yet to be made having regard to the putting in place of appropriate administrative and other arrangements to facilitate their full implementation.