Today's Times (subs required) reports that black taxi drivers are finding it difficult to pick up fares in Dublin and other areas. They say that passengers at ranks are going past them and getting into cabs with white drivers.

The National Taxi Drivers' Union president, Tommy Gorman, denies that racism is involved and suggests that people may have had previous experience with "coloured" drivers (what century are we in again?) not knowing where they were going.

Of course, this never happens with white Irish drivers. Oh no. I never had to give a white Irish taxi driver directions from Heuston Station to Dundrum. I never had to give a white Irish taxi driver directions from O'Connell Street to Phibsboro, for fuck's sake. Yes, Phibsboro. I never had a white Irish taxi driver get hopelessly lost trying to get me from Cabra to the Coolmine rail station. These incidents must all be figments of my imagination.

Gorman made his comments in the context of suggestions that white drivers should refuse to take these fares. He was defending the white drivers for failing to do so. That's understandable. He's a union leader, and the role of a union leader is to stand up for the union workers. But what he seems to be missing here is that he's the president of all the NTDU workers - including the black ones. He should be standing up for them, too, not suggesting these occurrences are their own fault.

The suggestion that taxi drivers should have to take a local knowledge test is a sensible one. If implemented, it would surely weed out most of those drivers (Irish and non-Irish, black, white or whatever) who don't know where they're going. But will it, as Gorman suggests, weed out those passengers who refuse to get into a cab with a black person driving it? Somehow, I don't think so.

1 comment:

WorldbyStom said...

Gormans remarks were entirely mealy-mouthed. I also wondered about his statement that taxi drivers in a line were obliged legally to take a fare if the passenger didn't select the taxi in front. Having gone for one car not realising there was another in front on a number of occasions I've never noticed taxidrivers being shy about telling me to get in the one ahead. Why this should operate differently simply due to the colour of the driver is an interesting question, is it not?

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