Licensing of taxi drivers falls under the remit of An Garda Síochána rather than the National Transport Authority
“Operation Vantage” is an operation which has been running for a number of years and is not related solely to taxis, being a wider immigration enquiry, although yesterday’s operation was focussed on Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) licences.
In 2018, it was officers from the NTA who provided information to the Garda National Immigration Bureau, which triggered the focus on a number of SPSV driver licences and resulted in yesterday’s operation. The information provided arose from our own compliance and enforcement work.
By way of clarification, there are two licences involved in the operation of a taxi. The first licence refers to the vehicle – the taxi vehicle must have a licence and be inspected annually. The second licence is for the driving of a taxi – the driver must be licensed.
The NTA is the licensing authority for vehicle licences – i.e. the taxi vehicles.
However, contrary to the impression given in some media reports today, An Garda Síochána is the licensing authority for the issue and renewal of SPSV driver licences – the licence to drive a taxi. Part of the reason that the function of licensing taxi drivers has remained with An Garda Síochána, is that they are best placed to carry out vetting and assessment of the suitability of the driver applicants.
Under the relevant regulations, SPSV driver licences are granted by An Garda Síochána only to people:
- Who are confirmed by An Garda Síochána to be suitable persons to hold SPSV driver licences;
- Who hold an Irish driving licence or a driving licence from another EU, EEA or other recognised state;
- Whose tax affairs are up to date (Hold a valid Tax Clearance certificate); and
- Who pass the SPSV Driver Entry Test and obtain the SPSV Skills Development Certificate
Applicants for an SPSV Driver Licence complete a Garda Application Form (PSV15) and submit it to the local Garda PSV office (outside Dublin) or to the Carriage Office (in Dublin).
The current investigation is an on-going investigation by An Garda Síochána, which the NTA has assisted, and will continue to assist, in relation to some individuals who have been granted SPSV driver licences. The Gardaí have powers under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013 to revoke SPSV driver licences where it considers it appropriate to do so. Separately, as the investigation progresses, if there is a necessity to revoke any vehicle licences, the NTA is also empowered under the same Act to do so. The appropriate actions will become clearer as the investigations by the Gardaí progress.
In summary, licensing of taxi drivers falls under the remit of An Garda Síochána. The NTA is assisting the Gardaí and did provide information to them which triggered part of the current focus of activity. As the licensing authority for taxi drivers, the revocation or suspension of SPSV driver licences for individuals currently holding such licences will be a matter for the Gardaí and will be dealt with by them.