Taxi drivers are warning they may take to the streets in protest over proposals to ban taxis from the College Green area of Dublin city centre.

Dublin City Council has applied for planning permission to build a pedestrianised plaza that would ban all traffic, including buses and taxis, from accessing Dame Street through College Green.

But even before any permission is granted, there are suggestions that taxis could be removed from the area, sooner rather than later, to alleviate traffic congestion.

The National Private Hire and Taxi Association is warning that protests could take place if the plaza plans proceed in their current form.

The proposals include the removal of a taxi rank at Foster Place, beside Bank of Ireland.

Spokesman Jim Waldron said: "There are 250 drivers approximately based in Foster Place. That's where they make their living. If their living is going to be taken away from them, they are not going to take it quietly.

"It's not what we want to be doing. If we are out protesting on the streets we're not making any money. We would rather be talking to people, and not just talking but being listened to."

Mr Waldron said drivers had consulted with Dublin City Council and proposed that taxis could be diverted down Anglesea Street, Fleet Street and onto Westmoreland Street. 

"We are trying to be constructive but we are not holding our breath," Mr Waldron added.

Current traffic in College Green has been affected by the Cross City Luas and in recent weeks a number of Dublin Bus services have been rerouted away from the area.

The National Transport Authority says it is monitoring the movement of public transport services through College Green.

In a statement, the NTA said: "Changes made in recent weeks to some Dublin Bus routes in the area have already had a positive effect."

It added that it would take further steps as appropriate. 

"We will look at everything in that regard," it added. 

Green Councillor and Chair of the City Council's Transport Committee, Ciarán Cuffe, said banning taxis could be part of the solution to the congestion at College Green.

"We have to make sure that Dublin doesn't grind to a halt and that includes taxis. If we think that taxis are part of the congestion in College Green we may have to look at perhaps taking them out during peak hours. 

"It simply isn't fair if three or four taxis that may or may not have fares are taking up the same space as two or three buses, or a fully loaded tram," Mr Cuffe added. 

"They (taxi drivers) have been able to make their views known through the consultation process. They will have another opportunity at the oral hearing at An Bord Pleanála." 

Hoteliers have cautioned that such a move could impact on tourists arriving into the city.

Six of Dublin's best-known hotels, including The Merrion and The Shelbourne, have appealed to An Bord Pleanála warning that excluding taxis would have "seriously adverse consequences for access to the Grafton Street area".

Dublin Chamber of Commerce is also urging caution when it comes to the proposal.

Head of Public Affairs Graeme McQueen said: "Around 80% of guests at some of the big hotels arrive by taxis. If we are going to make changes to College Green we have got to be sure that people can still access these hotels quickly and efficiently.

"I think everyone is quite frustrated by the situation at College Green. We do need to look at all alternatives to how we are going to make this work.

"We need to be very careful. Public transport and taxis are hugely important. If we are going to take taxis out it has to be done in a very cautious way," Mr McQueen said.