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City management try to gag Sinn Féin councillor

6 December, 2005

Sinn Féin councillor Tony Smithers has reacted furiously to efforts by senior members of City Management to gag him at a meeting of Dublin City Council on Monday night. Cllr Smithers, who is a part-time taxi driver, was prevented from speaking on the issue of taxis and hackneys last night.   Cllr Smithers said: “I am proud to be a taxi driver and in order to be as upfront as possible I have always made it clear whenever I speak on the any related subject that I am a taxi driver. But the idea that I am not allowed talk on a vital issue of Dublin transport like the taxi system, of which I have a great deal of firsthand knowledge, is ludicrous. No-one is saying that councillors who are teachers should not discuss issues related to the Vocational Education Committees, or that architects cannot be involved in planning decisions. I am not hiding my profession, being a taxi driver is nothing to be ashamed of, I am trying to contribute to the debate about improving the transportation system in Dublin.”   Sinn Féin Group Leader Cllr Christy Burke agreed, saying, “The really annoying part of this is that it had already been agreed, with cross-party support, in the Protocol Committee that there was no problem with Tony speaking on an issue like this. We have demanded that the Law Agent of the Council come back to us with a thorough report but in my opinion this was blatant targeted censorship against one of our councillors because he is a taxi driver and a member of Sinn Féin. I can assure City Management that this is not acceptable to our party.” Críoch

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