Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Dublin taxi men suicides sparks outcry

Three taxi men in the Republic of Ireland who were close friends took their own lives in the space of one week, it has emerged.





The tragic deaths of the men, who were all in their early forties, has sparked an outcry in the industry about the drastic effect the recession is having on overworked and stressed taxi drivers.



Brian Jameson of Castlelawns, Balrothery, Dublin, was the first of the three to die, on August 25, 2009. Just three days later, his old school friend Ollie Courtney (43) took his own life on August 28, and he died at St James' Hospital, Dublin.





Noel Hayes of Sarsfield Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin attended Ollie's funeral, and sadly he also took his own life afterwards.



Ollie's wife Sharon described how they had a whole future planned together and her husband was a very happy man.



"I'm still expecting him to walk in the door anytime. I never thought he would have done anything like this, we've a lovely home and three daughters.



"He was the best husband in the world and the best father in the world to the three girls. He was a very happy and outgoing person, and he'd help anyone out."



Sharon knew that Ollie was out of sorts a few days before his death, but it was a complete shock when she found him.



"I came home and found him. It turns out he was just after sending a text to his best friend Harry telling him to look after me and that he loved them [the girls].



"On Wednesday, he said he was feeling a bit down and on Thursday I took him to the doctor. But he said he was just letting things bother him and he was feeling a bit down."



However, the couple had been planning a a holiday at the end of this month, and Ollie had plans to change his car.



All three men went to primary school together and they also knew each other through the taxi business.



Ollie worked for Xpert Digi-Taxis and Vinnie Kearns, head of the company and ex vice-President of the National Taxi Drivers Union (NTDU), said he was a very easygoing and enthusiastic worker.



"I knew him very closely. He was a driver from inception, very hard working. He was a very consistent type of guy and a good family man. It's extremely sad and his family are going through a very tough time.He was a great ambassador for the taxi industry. He always went out to be helpful to the general public."



The taxi boss stressed that Ollie worked as many hours as he needed in order to provide for his wife and three daughters, Nichola, Annette, and Jessica.



"Ollie was a very easy-going, deep and personable man. If the week meant that he had to work 70 to 80 hours a week, then that's what he'd do."



National Taxi Drivers Union President, Aidan added that the doom and gloom currently in the taxi industry, precipitates the need for increased awareness of charities like the Samaritans.







"It's indicative of the pressures that the drivers are living under -- with financial problems and the lack of rank spaces. It's one thing being piled up on top of the other."



He said things have never been as bad in the taxi industry, in his 20 years of experience.



"There's an air of doom and gloom out there. With all the changes now, there's a lack of licences, lack of ranks, and illegal drivers as well."



"I really feel for the guys with the pressure the lads are under."

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