Lifelong Republican and Saoradh Béal Feirste member Alex McCrory with an opinion piece regarding the promotion of the PSNI on West Belfast Taxi Association vehicles.
“A major controversy is brewing over the recent appearance of some black taxis, the exact number is not known at the time of writing, carrying an advertisement for ‘Crimestoppers’. At the moment it is unclear whether drivers were consulted on this new departure, or was it a decision made by management alone. It is being reported on social media that many drivers are angry which suggests that the views of employees were not canvassed. If this is the case then it is yet another example of dictatorial management.
The history of the Falls Taxi Association, now West Belfast Taxi Association, is an instructive lesson in community initiative and self-reliance. Set up in the early 1970s when the war was raging, it was designed to provide a safe and uninterrupted means of transport for the hard pressed nationalist people of West Belfast. In the intervening years, the WBTA has become a veritable institution enjoying widespread support and respect in the communities.
Because of its nationalist working class origins, the black taxis became a target for the state and its loyalist murder gangs. Posing as an alternative to the public transport system, black taxi drivers were constantly harassed on the roads and targeted in their homes. Many paid the ultimate price for their dedicated service to the people. They spilt blood, sweat and tears so that we could travel safely in and out of our own city. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.
Is it now to be the case that the people’s taxis are to be used to promote the very agency that colluded in the murder of many of its employees? Lest it is forgotten, the PSNI incorporates the trained killers and directors of terrorism of the RUC. In another world, this would be an affront to our collective experience of the repressive state apparatus. Have we forgotten so much that we are prepared to abandon the proud history of the West Belfast Taxi Association? Surely not.
This blatant political manipulation of the WBTA must be rejected by all right-thinking people. Republicans and nationalists should not be used in a shameless exercise to promote our oppressors and tormentors. Today the PSNI – RUC continues its policy of intimidation of individuals and families because of their political beliefs.
The ethos of community solidarity that underpinned the West Belfast Taxi Association should not be prostituted for political or commercial expediency. The people must say no to this act of betrayal.”