Belfast Telegraph

Taxi drivers warned of extra lights

A taxi watchdog has warned drivers to stop using additional green lights on car roofs amid concerns they advertise nationality.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) issued the order after a raft of reports in recent weeks about extra bright lights above the standard yellow rooftop signs. The authority insisted it has not seen a prevalence of the signs but insisted they are illegal.

"Any such lights, regardless of the reason for their display, are contrary to rules relating to customising taxi roof signs and should therefore be removed," a spokesman said.

"In relation to alleged usage of signs to denote nationality, we note that the National Transport Authority will not tolerate racism in any form nor from any source, driver or passenger. The authority takes any incidences of discrimination extremely seriously and refers all such matters to the authorities with the power to investigate such complaints."

The National Private Hire and Taxi Association said the green lights have been visible on cabs around the country for about five months. The group also suggested the idea originated in Spain where the small bright lights are a common "for hire" sign.

Christy Humphrey, spokesman for the group, said it was about generating business rather than race.

"It's illegal to do it, to advertise on the roof. There are regulations for the signs," he said. "But it was about generating business. I can't actually see how somebody can say it's to identify an Irish driver when they are available to everyone. Some of the roof signs are so old and faded you can't see if it's on."

John Usher, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation (ITDF), said none of his members have reported drivers using the lights.

"I don't see how you could match this up - a green light for an Irish driver," he said. "But if there's a trend developing out there and they think they are going to advertise Irish we'd be totally against that. We in the ITDF would be very quick to go about our members and stamp it out. It's not something we want and they'd be told to remove them, pronto."

The NTA said any allegations of racism among drivers will be passed on to the Garda or the Equality Authority to investigate.

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