Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera would not be permitted to drive a taxi under new legislation, Sinn Féin transport spokesman Dessie Ellis told the Dáil.
Enactment of the Taxi Regulation Bill would mean people convicted of offences as part of the conflict in the North would have to appeal to keep their licences or “will be barred from entering the industry” said the Dublin North West TD.
Ellis pointed out that he was a former political leader as where many leading members of Fine Gael and d Fianna Fáil in the past. He said the Belfast Agreement “which this State signed up to and has a duty to uphold, is clear in opposing barriers to employment for former political prisoners."
Ellis asked Minister of State Alan Kelly, who introduced the Bill, “if Michael Collins, Richard Mulcahy, Joe McGrath, Proinsias De Rossa, Eamon de Valera and Seán Lemass, all former political prisoners, were not fit to drive taxis."
Previously, Minister Kelly had said it was a matter for the Minister for Justice and could be dealt with under spent conviction legislation. Ellis described these comments as "bluff and rubbish," the Irish Times reports.
A similar attempt had been made to bar political prisoners from driving taxis in Northern Ireland, but the courts ruled against this legislation.
Ellis said “given the Irish constitutional protection for the right to make a living, I have no doubt a similar case would be successful in this State should this section of the Bill remain."
He said the Minister could avoid such legal action by looking again at the approach in the Bill and to exclude those covered by the Belfast Agreement.