herald

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Rape threat to female bus driver on 'night of hell' for transport staff

Dermot O’Leary wants the Government to take action
Dermot O’Leary wants the Government to take action

A woman bus driver was threatened with rape in what transport workers called a "night of hell" on Halloween.

It wasn't just a chaotic night for emergency services, which responded to more than 200 calls of fires on Thursday night.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) recorded a total of 11 incidents across Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann on the night of October 31.

The 38A route had to be terminated in Corduff from 8.55pm due to gangs of youths, multiple fires and stolen cars being joyridden in the area.

Buses were also withdrawn on the 39A route from UCD campus at Belfield at 8pm following "aggressiveness and crowd control issues" from a large number of intoxicated students.

The 79 route also had to be cancelled at Cherry Orchard Hospital, Ballyfermot, due to anti-social behaviour, stone throwing and at least one window broken. In Brookfield, Tallaght and Finglas South, routes were withdrawn, again due to stone throwing, stolen cars set alight and fireworks launched at buses.

But it was not just the capital that endured a night of anti-social activity on public transport.

In Co Cork, a female Bus Eireann driver was threatened with rape on the 220 route by a gang of men.

There was also a serious incident in Ashbourne, Co Meath, in which a rocket firework was fired at a bus when the doors were open.

The device exploded in the door well of the vehicle, but luckily no one was injured.

The NBRU reported "absolute mayhem" at the University of Limerick, resulting in buses being redirected after 8pm.

Appalling

Incidents involving stone, firework and egg throwing also led to buses being called off in O'Malley Park, Ballynanty, and Carew Park in Co Limerick.

The NBRU said while no member of staff was injured on Halloween, the incidents could have led to "very serious" consequences.

It is now calling for an immediate roll-out of a dedicated Garda Transport Unit.

"The Government should heed the concerns of public transport workers and not allow for the appalling vista of someone suffering serious injury or worse before action is taken," said general secretary Dermot O'Leary. "The withdrawal or curtailment of public transport services due to loutish behaviour on an almost daily basis is patently not fair on the hundreds and thousands of law-abiding citizens that use these services.

"The NBRU will continue to monitor the anti-social behaviour and downright thuggery that has become pervasive across bus and rail services."

In July, Dublin South-West TD John Lahart had called for a dedicated Garda Transport Unit after footage of a brutal attack on a man on the Luas went viral on social media.

In May, Labour senator Kevin Humphreys urged Irish Rail to take immediate action in order to deal with the problem of packs of teenage boys and young men drinking on the Dart and commuter trains en route to beaches or the city during the day.

Irish Rail has since introduced a text alert service so Dart passengers can report anti-social behaviour onboard trains and at stations.

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