Councillors to demand city manager resign from Taxi Regulations Advisory Council

Councillors are set to demand that city manager Joe MacGrath resign as a member of The Commission for Taxi Regulations Advisory Council at the next Galway City Council meeting.

Labour Cllr Tom Costello will propose the motion, which will be a Section 22 motion, meaning it must be heard on the night. Mr MacGrath sits on the Commission for Taxi Regulation Advisory Council as the representative of the County and City Managers Association.

Cllr Costello is calling for Mr MacGrath to resign from the TRAC due to the alleged “obdurate attitude” of the taxi regulator Kathleen Doyle in “refusing to engage in meaningful solutions” to taxi issues in Galway.

In response to the impending motion, City Hall pointed out that Mr MacGrath’s position on the advisory council is not specific to the Galway City Council, and that he is there as a representative of the County and City Managers’ Association.

Since deregulation the number of taxis in Galway has mushroomed. This has led to problems of overcrowding on taxi ranks and taxis having to park way beyond the rank’s actual limit.

As such, Cllr Costello will also call on Mr MacGrath to engage with the Galway Taxi Association to help implement its Blueprint For New Taxi Ranks In Trading Areas For Galway in “sufficient time to be of benefit to the city in hosting the Volvo Ocean Race”.

The blueprint details the kind of changes the GTA wishes to see implemented to solve the various issues of concern that have arisen since deregulation.

Regarding calls to help implement the Blueprint For New Taxi Ranks, Mr MacGrath in a statement to the Galway Advertiser, said that proposals to increase the number of taxi base stands at various locations around the city were tabled at a meeting with the representative organisations for taxi operators on June 23.

“I am still waiting on a response from all of the representative organisations,” he said. “As I have not yet received all responses, I have taken the initiative to invite the representative organisations to a further meeting with a view to progressing the proposals.”

Nonetheless the Galway Taxi Association - which represents Big O Taxis, Galway Taxis, Abbey Taxis, City Taxis, Local Taxis, Failte Taxis, and independent taxi operators - is hopeful that Cllr Costello’s motion will get backing from most, if not all, of the 15 city councillors next week.

The group is encouraged by the fact that speakers from both Government and opposition parties addressed the recent taxi drivers’ march and rally, held in the city in January.

On January 24, the Galway Taxi Association wrote to Mr MacGrath calling on him to resign from his position on the Advisory Council.

The GTA said he should resign, alleging that the CTR is a “quango” operating “against the best interests of Galway city, its people, tourism, and the taxi industry”.

The lobby group also called on the manager to engage with it to draft an ‘emergency plan’ to address problems such as traffic congestion and the lack of taxi rank spaces. The letter read that the plan can be achieved by April in time for the Volvo Ocean Race.

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