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Gardaí probe alleged assault of female taxi driver by passenger who refused to pay fare

The violent incident happened after a couple exited the vehicle and walked into a house

Amy MolloyIndependent.ie

A female taxi driver who alleges she was assaulted by a male passenger after he refused to pay his fare has said what happened to her is an example of why drivers “no longer feel safe working at night”.

Gardaí are investigating the reported assault, which is alleged to have happened outside a house in Lucan, Co Dublin, shortly after midnight on Monday.

The woman received medical attention for serious injuries and has been unable to return to work following the incident.

A garda spokesperson said no arrests have been made and investigations are ongoing.

Speaking to theIrish Independent on the condition of anonymity, the woman said she was punched “over and over again” in the face.

She picked up a couple outside a pub after dropping off another two passengers in Lucan village. “They were so nice in the car,” she said.

When she arrived at their destination after a short trip, the couple got out of the car without paying and walked into a house.

“I walked up to the door and started knocking on the door but they were ignoring me,” she said.

“I kept banging on the door. The woman came out and pushed me away from the door. She kept trying to close it but I wouldn’t let her.

“The man then came out and was trying to pull me inside. I turned around and ran away but he grabbed me by the hair and pulled me to the ground and started punching me. He punched me more than 20 times in two minutes.”

Figures show 632 assaults on taxi drivers were reported between 2016 and 2020, but the true number is believed to be higher.

She said the man eventually stopped attacking her and went back inside.

“Somebody passed and I screamed to call the guards but nobody stopped.

“My face is all swollen and I had to go to hospital.

“I am completely in shock. If they were very rude in the beginning of the car journey, I would have known to be careful but all of a sudden they turned into completely different people.”

The woman has been working as a taxi driver for one year. While she has experienced verbal abuse, she has never been physically assaulted.

“I’ve had very rude people before but nothing like this. I am just shocked.”

Figures show 632 assaults on taxi drivers were reported between 2016 and 2020, but the true number is believed to be higher.

Drivers have raised safety concerns, with some choosing not to work through the night as a result.

Taxi firm Free Now said the sector has faced a decline of up to 10pc in drivers in the past few years, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company has launched a €3 million Christmas bonus fund to incentivise drivers to work during busy times in order to meet demand.

Meanwhile, hospitality groups are calling for a taskforce to be established to address the issue.

Restaurants and pubs are seeing a “noticeable trend” in customers leaving for home early, as well as others cancelling reservations due to the issue.

Calls are now mounting for the introduction of an Uber-style service to address the transport crisis.

Brian Foley, communications and public affairs manager with the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, said: “We urgently require a taxi taskforce to work on why people are exiting the trade and, more importantly, how to reinvigorate such an essential service.

“In rural areas, lack of public transport is an ongoing issue. Taxi services are non-existent in the country so people rely on hackney services, which are patchy at best.

“There is definitely a need for a rural, Uber-style service where people can turn their private vehicles into public hire to earn some extra money.”​


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