Motorbike cops zoom up to junctions at noon in Dublin today, lights flashing and hold traffic up to clear the way for what is coming. But who or what is it that is coming? “Must be some nasty capitalist diplomatic representative from abroad”, we think. “Or maybe one of our own Gombeen Government politicians,” we add as an afterthought. And usually we’d be right — but not this time.
(All photos source: D.Breatnach).
It’s the annual Taxi-Drivers’ Day Out for Special Needs Children.
A quick search failed to find anything on Google about it other than a post from a Journal.ie report dated last year. From that I learned that this is an annual event, first organised in those far-off days of unfunded un-NGO-organised community events — 1960 to be precise.
The report from last year quoted a figure of 400 taxi-drivers signed up for the day but the organiser was appealing for more drivers still. The report stated that the previous year (2016), 1,000 children had been taken on the day out.
The following three paragraphs are from the Journal’s pre-event report last year.
‘On the day, children are picked up from hospitals, care homes or private homes by their own personal taxi driver for the day. From there, they are taken to Parnell Square where all taxis gather for a speech by the Lord Mayor and some music from the Garda Band and DJs.
‘The taxis are then escorted through the city by gardaí to the racecourse where they are treated to music, games, face-painting and finger food.
‘“Our aim is to treat the special needs children of the city to a fun day out and put smiles on faces. That’s exactly what you get when they arrive in Parnell Square and they’re meeting and greeting the mascots and characters,” Matthews (the organiser) said.
These photos were taken from outside Liberty Hall, where I was awaiting a group in order to start a history tour.
PS: Good to see the cops were not masked, wielding batons and pepper-spray canisters or carrying machine-guns and battering-ram.