Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Questions (394)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

394. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to an increase in reports from SPSV NTA issued licence holders of being prevented from transporting passengers travelling cross-Border, both to and from destinations in Northern Ireland, by authorities there; if such an escalation in enforcement by the authorities in Northern Ireland contravenes reciprocal arrangements in place across both jurisdictions by which taxi operators based either side of the Border may operate on such a cross-Border basis without impediment; if such a reciprocal regime does not exist, the efforts being made between the respective authorities to establish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22559/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The question of reports from holders of small public service vehicle (SPSV) licences issued by the NTA of being prevented from transporting passengers travelling cross-border into Northern Ireland has been brought to the attention of my Department in the past.

The relevant Irish legislation governing taxi services is the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, which requires the holding of an SPSV licence and an SPSV driver licence to carry persons for hire or reward in the State. The 2013 Act and its requirements only apply to services provided in the State - it does not provide for services across a border. I understand that the legislative position in Northern Ireland is similar. Thus, under current legislation, a taxi operator wishing to operate cross-border services, would have to apply for and obtain licences on each side of the border. Unlike other areas of transport - such as bus and road haulage operations - taxi services are not subject to EU harmonisation, so arrangements for regulating taxi services remain a matter for the relevant authorities in each State in respect of services that operate in their jurisdiction.

With a view to ensuring that cross-border taxi services could be better legally facilitated and appropriately regulated, I previously agreed with my counterpart in Northern Ireland that primary legislation would be prepared, on a reciprocal basis, in both jurisdictions to allow for exempting licensed taxi operators in respect of certain cross-border services, subject to specified conditions.

I remain committed to developing the necessary legislative changes to the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, subject to Government approval, and provided that legislative arrangements can be progressed on a reciprocal basis either side of the border. My Department continues to engage with counterparts in Northern Ireland. However, in the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, it is not possible for Northern Ireland to progress with making changes to its legislation at present.