Glasgow taxi man banned after Donegal brothers 'thrown out of cab for speaking Irish'

Anthony Blair - thrown out of cab

A Glasgow cab driver who ordered two Irish-speaking Donegal brothers out of his car has been given a one-month taxi driving ban by the city’s licence regulators.

Alan McKinnon, a driver with Hampden Cabs, had his license suspended after the committee found he failed to fulfil a hire without sufficient cause or conduct himself in a civil manner after he evicted Anthony and Joe Blair from his car.

Mr McKinnon, from the Bridgeton area of Glasgow, was also told to undertake customer care training as part of the reprimand handed down by Glasgow City Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee.

Speaking to The Irish Post newspaper following the committee’s decision Anthony Blair said: “It was outrageous so it’s good he has been asked to do customer care training. Hopefully that will teach him about dealing with customers from different ethnic backgrounds.”

The 20-year-old added: “If it was against any other nationality there would have been uproar about it but with Irish people these things tend to blow over. Because it’s an Irish person they can give him the minimum ban and hope people forget about it.”

In a statement, Mr McKinnon – a father-of-three – said he told his passengers to stop speaking Irish because he was convinced they were talking about him.

“As they refused to stop, I stopped the car and ended the hire,” he said.

He alleges his fears had been sparked because one of the passengers was singing Celtic songs and said “you must be a hun then” after he asked them to stop singing.

Mr McKinnon’s legal representative told the hearing that he had worked for the Hampden Cabs taxi firm for 13 years without any complaints being made against him.

Claiming his client should be given no punishment, the solicitor described the use of the word ‘hun’ as “a sectarian matter”, but acknowledged it had not been used in an aggressive tone.

He went on to say the driver felt threatened and was not making a derogatory reference to the Irish language when asking his passengers to stop speaking their native tongue.

“He’s appalled to be in front of you today. He has three children and his livelihood is at stake. He is very aware of the serious nature of this matter, which could destroy his career.”

Anthony Blair denies either he or his brother Joe, 22, made reference to the word ‘hun’.

Mr Blair was visiting his grandmother in Glasgow with his brother last December 16 when the incident happened.

The pair, from Gweedore in Co. Donegal, got into the cab at around 2am with their cousin Kathleen McAleer, a Glasgow native, and her friend.

But things turned sour once the men started to converse in Irish with Mr McKinnon, whose taxi licence number is TD08553, allegedly telling them “in Britain it’s English that’s spoken”.

“Myself and Anthony began chatting in Irish as we normally do but the driver seemed to have a problem with this,” Joe Blair told the Licensing and Regulatory Committee in a statement.

“He told us to stop speaking in that language and that it was English spoken in Britain and if we wanted to speak that then we could get out.”

The driver then stopped the car and ended the hire leaving the group to walk home.

The hearing concluded with the Licensing and Regulatory Committee suspending Mr McKinnon’s license for a month and ordering him to undertake customer care training during that time.

“I was not looking for anybody to lose their job or anything like that,” Anthony Blair said. “An apology would have been far better. If anything I hope it raises awareness of the Irish in Glasgow and the fact people do speak Irish as a language.”

- This story courtesy of The Irish Post. Author: Niall O'Sullivan

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