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Black taxi drivers fear race assaults

FARE TREATMENT: Black cab rivers fear assaults

AFRICAN taxi drivers in Ireland say they are living in fear of attack after a driver from Dublin died following an assault.

Moses Ayanwole, 41, was left fighting for his life after being punched in the head by a white passenger in Pearse Street at around 12.20am on Monday, November 14. He died two days later.

He suffered serious injuries after being knocked to the ground amid the dispute and cracking his head on the pavement.

Garda, the Irish police force, said the assault stemmed from a dispute over the cost of the journey, but immigrant support groups believe the incident may have been racially-motivated.

Ayanwole was taken to St James Hospital following the attack where he was induced in to a coma. Unable to revive him, his wife, Olusola, was forced to make the gruelling decision to have his life support switched.

Colleague and close friend Ekundayo Ominyi told reporters: "He was a very gentle man; an easygoing guy. I have known Moses for a long time, we used to attend the same church."

“This is one of the risks when you are driving a taxi. Getting hurt is a big fear.”

Ayonwole leaves behind a wife, Olusola, and a 12-year-old son.

Assault

A 25-year-old man was arrested at a pub near the scene around 20 hours after the assault. He has since been released without charge though a file is being prepared by the Department of Public Prosecutions.

Immigrant support group, Residents Against Racism, raised fears the attack was the culmination of a history or racist abuse and harassment against African taxi drivers in the Irish capital.

A representative of the group, Rosanna Flynn, who is in close contact with the Ayanwole family, told The Voice: "There have been many. There was one last Saturday around Camden Street. The driver had just picked up to women - and this is commonplace, two white men passing shouted a load of racist abuse and smashed a wing mirror on his taxi."

“He got out to confront them and for once a couple of Garda (police) were passing and one was arrested."

"That's the sort of incident that happens every day. There have been other cases where the police have not taken incidents seriously."

"The guys were saying, before this ever happened, that every day you get at least one person jumps without paying and gives a load of racist abuse".

According to Flynn, one BME taxi driver, has even considered giving up the job for fear of being attacked.

She added: "He said he’s not going to drive a taxi, but he may have no choice. I know the guy, he's got a mortgage to pay and he has children, so he probably won't be able to give it up, but that's his thought now".

"Moses was a very religious man. When you think about what he must have been through to come here in the first place and then go through the horrible asylum process, get the papers, get a job, and then this happens".

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