Drivers reject proposals
ALMOST 2,000 taxi drivers rejected the proposals put forward by Minister of State Bobby Molloy at a mass meeting last night.
Under no circumstances will drivers return to work unless Mr Molloy offers a solution acceptable to them, said Vincent Kearns, Vice President of the National Taxi Drivers Union, following a meeting in Dublin's National Stadium.
But he did say that taxi men were willing to offer Mr Molloy an increase in plate numbers to ease the city's shortageproblem.
Speaking of his meeting with Mr Molloy, he added that "we went in with an open agenda and delivered it to our members tonight. They have told us that that is not sufficient. There is no possibility of anyone going back to work unless a reasonable resolve is found."
Mr Kearns rejected suggestions of a split between drivers represented by SIPTU and the other two unions, despite predictions by SIPTU that the taxi service could return to normal next week.
"The three unions differ at times but they are 100pc of the same view on this issue," he continued.
He added that members were hopeful that a High Court action tomorrow would be successful in winning an injunction against plans to deregulate the taxi industry.
Earlier, union leaders entered the hall as the theme tune from the Sylvester Stallone film Rocky played in the background.
One man dressed in a poncho and sombrero appeared with a sign saying "Why now Bobby" referring to the Minister of State's departure to Mexico.
He told the crowd that his son, Brendan Cunningham from Fairview in Dublin, had been the child pictured in media reports crying at the taxi men's march on the Dáil on Tuesday.
He wanted to point out that the child had not been injured but had become separated from his mother.
Mr Kearns went on to say that he was hopeful that the High Court would deliver what taxi drivers wanted and block Mr Molloy from going any further.
He added that he believed existing legislation was on their side.
"We don't want the government making decisions that should be heard in the courts," he said.
"After that we will sit down and negotiate with the government on the numbers of taxis for Dublin."
A number of SIPTU members were also present at the meeting. Leaders of the other taxi unions said that a delegation from SIPTU had come to relay the feelings from their meeting earlier in the day.
Drivers gathered from about 6 o'clock at the National Stadium and after an hour the stadium had filled up with a far greater crowd than attended last
Once again the media were barred from the meeting until its conclusion but it is believed that union leaders were criticised from the floor by some speakers on comments made to the media.
Afterwards the mood among those who attended was defiant. Some told how they had put their mortgages back up to six months in order to support their strike and were prepared to put them back by up to a year.
Others were once again critical of media coverage of the taxi dispute, especially the march on Dáil Eireann on Tuesday.
The comments made by leaders in the National Stadium last night were in marked contrast to the more conciliatory tones of the SIPTU leaders involved in the earlier taxi drivers' meeting in Liberty Hall.
The SIPTU people indicated that its members could be back to work next week while members of the Irish Taxi Drivers Union and the Irish Federation of Taxi Drivers were adamant that they would stay out until they got major concessions.
By BEN QUINN