'I'm disgusted that taxi men wouldn't take my guide dog' - angry Allie
A visually-impaired woman was left distraught when two taxi drivers refused to allow her guide dog in their cars.
Allie Reilly (30) was trying to get home with Evie when she approached the rank outside the Navan Shopping Centre in Co Meath.
Two drivers refused to take her because of the dog.
Allie is blind in her left eye and has only 20pc to 40pc vision in her right. She said getting Evie last March has transformed her life.
However, she was left heartbroken when the drivers refused her fare.
"Myself and my partner Noel Farrelly went to get a taxi last Thursday evening and the first taxi driver at the top of the rank just said he didn't take dogs, end of story," she said.
"The driver in the next car along the rank also just waved no with both hands and said he didn't take dogs.
"I felt so saddened. I just couldn't believe it. They would have left me stranded.
"Thankfully, Noel noticed a taxi driver at the back of the rank who was beckoning to us. He couldn't believe anyone would refuse a guide dog.
"I've never been refused a taxi before in my life. I was embarrassed at the time, but I'm absolutely disgusted now.
"Evie cost €53,500 to train. Did they think she was going to get sick or go to the toilet in the car?
"I'm sure she's much better behaved than some of the customers coming home from a night out."
Allie lived in Celbridge, Co Kildare, before moving to Navan, and reached the finals in the Kildare Rose of Tralee competition three years ago.
She said getting matched with Evie earlier this year has had a massive impact on her life.
"She made me more confident," she said.
"I really think taxi drivers should be made more aware of the intensive training guide dogs undergo."
A spokesperson for the National Transport Authority said: "It is a legal obligation to accept a passenger with a guide dog or an assistance dog."
Léan Kennedy, the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind's advocacy and policy officer, said: "People who are blind or vision-impaired, travelling with their guide dog, should not face difficulties when getting a taxi.
"It is distressing to blind or vision-impaired people when they are refused a service by a taxi or hackney driver."