'Middle-class kids' blamed for 200pc rise in graffiti damage
A 200 per cent increase in the number of incidents involving Irish Rail trains and property being damaged by graffiti has been blamed on "a bunch of middle-class kids with nothing better to do".
There were 845 cases of Irish Rail property being damaged in the Dublin region in 2015, compared with 615 throughout the previous year.
The figures represent a 38pc increase over the past 12 months and include incidents of graffiti, vandalism, damage to property and trespassing.
During a meeting of Dublin City Council's Joint Policing Committee, Labour councillor Dermot Lacey suggested that the graffiti attacks could be the result of "a bunch of middle-class kids with nothing better to do".
It was also pointed out at the meeting by several politicians and Irish Rail representatives that a number of those responsible for damaging Irish Rail assets attended a college for art and design in the capital.
The number of graffiti incidents alone increased by more than 200pc from 57 in 2014 to 172 last year, while vandalism cases rose by 130pc to 79 in 2015 from 35 the year before.
Connolly Station assistant manager Gavin Collins said more than €350,000 was spent on cleaning trains alone across the country last year. He added that the company was intent on prosecuting those who damage Irish Rail assets.
In one incident, a young Spanish male was deported after being charged and convicted of causing damage to a train.
Mr Collins told the committee that the crime of graffiti was the "bane of my life" and dismissed the "romantic" notion held by people who think they are like famed UK artist Banksy.
"It's a criminal matter," he said.
Mr Collins told how in one incident a group of youths att-acked two Dart stations and caused €6,000 worth of damage, while in another, two young men caused €5,500 worth of damage after setting a ticket machine alight.
He also said that the judiciary does not weigh in heavily enough on the matter, but added that the young age of those responsible makes it difficult.
Dublin Town chief executive Richard Guiney said his organisation was removing 15,000 square feet of graffiti from their property every year.
Fianna Fail councillor Paul McAuliffe said the council had removed more than 35,000 square feet of graffiti around the city.
Garda Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan told the committee that graffiti falls under the category of criminal damage, and added that the problem could be tackled by introducing it into the Garda Schools Education Initiative.