Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has welcomed the announcement of further support for Northern Ireland taxi drivers during the pandemic, but warns more needs to be done for cabbies who were not eligible for the first grant.
The Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister received support for plans to provide a further financial assistance scheme to the taxi industry worth £1,500 to each eligible driver.
The second grant will provide financial assistance to taxi drivers whose insurance did not cover the full six month period of the existing scheme and will provide further assistance for all drivers from 1 October until the end of this financial year.
The first grant was accessed by over 4,100 eligible cabbies, each handed a one-off payment of £1,500.
Controversially though, the grant was made dependent on the drivers' expenses incurred during the period 22 March 2020 up to 30 September 2020. This meant drivers who cancelled or downgraded their taxi vehicle insurance to save on costs during the pandemic missed out.
Cathal Boylan, Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MLA, said: "The announcement of additional support for taxi drivers will be welcomed by the sector.
"The COVID19 pandemic has been extremely difficult and challenging for many workers, and in particular taxi drivers continue to experience financial hardship as the industry has grinded to a standstill.
"Previous grants of £1,500 made to some taxi drivers by Minister Mallon, while a welcome step in the right direction, were considered a paltry sum by most taxi drivers.
"Other drivers were not eligible for the scheme due to taking insurance breaks, this is unacceptable and must be rectified.
"Both the outstanding payments and new payments must be issued swiftly and the money placed into the pockets of these workers and families.
“Sinn Féin will continue to stand strong for families and workers through this pandemic.”