Senior gardaí in Kerry have asked the Taxi Regulator for assistance as part of a drive to bring down the "astonishing number" of young people drink driving.

At a meeting of the county's Joint Policing Committee in Killorglin, gardaí said the county has poor public transport and taxis are difficult to get late at night for people living in rural areas. Gardaí say they have become aware that some taxis were refusing to take people to rural areas- even villages that would not be considered very far from Killarney town.

In response to a question from Councillor Brendan Cronin, the head of the Garda Traffic Division in Kerry Tony Sugrue, said some taxis were refusing to carry people to Farranfore, Kilcummin, Glenflesk and other areas around 10km and less away from the town.

There is a suspicion that young people out socialising are taking risks by driving while under the influence of alcohol. 

The meeting was told that under Section 23 of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, taxi drivers cannot refuse a journey based on distance unless the distance was over 30kms.

While detections among older drivers are continuing to fall, there has been an increase in the number of younger drivers being registered as driving under the influence. Inspector Sugrue said the numbers detected between the ages of 21 and 30 has astonished gardaí. 

He said: "We would all have believed this age group was not engaging in drink driving. We need to find out why it is happening and if we can reverse the trend."

Last year, drink-driving was linked directly to almost 300 deaths and serious injuries on the roads around Kerry which represents an increase of 25% on 2016.

Councillor Brendan Cronin said that some taxis were refusing to carry people to rural areas was "very disappointing and he welcomed the move by the garda to the regulator.

"People living in rural areas are totally dependent on the taxi service, " the Councillor said.