Friday 22 February 2019

Ross is urged to create transport police force to stop worker attacks

Union official Dermot O'Leary wrote to the transport minister
Union official Dermot O'Leary wrote to the transport minister

A union representing bus and rail workers has written to Transport Minister Shane Ross asking him to set up a specialised transport police force.

Dermot O'Leary, of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), said that the request comes on the back of a spate of incidents which have seen transport staff assaulted, and a spike in antisocial behaviour.

RTE's This Week programme reported that there were more than 1,000 separate incidents of antisocial behaviour recorded by Irish Rail since the start of last year, including 20 assaults on staff.

Now the NBRU has raised the idea of establishing a transport police force similar to that in place in the UK.

In a letter sent to the minister, Mr O'Leary writes that "doing nothing is not an option".

It includes a direct appeal to Mr Ross, which calls on him to "at least start a conversation around the concept of creating a dedicated transport police resource that would have the powers of detention and arrest, like those of the gardai."

The minister is warned that the increasing concerns around safety affects both buses and trains and that the safety concerns extend to both passengers and staff.


Mr O'Leary told the Herald he hoped that Mr Ross would approach the issue of a specialised transport police with the same zeal with which he approached the issue of the reopening of Stepaside Garda Station.

Irish Rail acknowledged that there had been a spike in antisocial behaviour and to counteract that had hired additional private security to tackle the problem.

Staff are urged to report all incidents to the company, spokesman Barry Kenny said.

The issue of antisocial behaviour on public transport came to light at the weekend following a Liam Gallagher concert at Malahide Castle on Dublin's northside.

Irish Rail was forced to halt a Dart and transfer passengers to a new service after concert-goers prised open the doors of the trains and began to walk on the tracks.

Commuters reported incidents of people "smoking, urinating and freaking out" while one concert-goer shared an image on social media of a smashed window.

The incident led to severe delays and the company apologised to customers and acknowledged it was "worrying and upsetting" for some.

Mr Ross did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by the Herald.

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