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'We need transport police - because people are now too scared to use the Luas'

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Reporter Laura Lynott at Tallaght Luas stop

Reporter Laura Lynott at Tallaght Luas stop

Reporter Laura Lynott at Tallaght Luas stop

An election candidate told how she was forced to protect a non-national woman who was verbally abused and intimidated by a gang of young men on the Luas red line.

Carly Bailey, a Dublin south west candidate for the Social Democrats, has joined the call for Ireland's first transport police following the incident.

She was on the Luas in recent weeks when several teenage males started to harass a young woman.

Ms Bailey, who was travelling from Tallaght to the city centre, intervened but the youths then turned on her, swearing and making veiled threats.

Ms Bailey is now calling for the creation of a transport police along with other political parties and the ramping-up of security on the Luas.

"They were taking the young woman's hat off and when she snatched it back, they were laughing at her and telling her to calm down," said Ms Bailey, who is also a councillor in Rathfarnham Templeogue.

Knifepoint

"They just kept at her until I said 'leave her alone'. Then they got aggressive, swearing at me, saying who did I think I was, that I'd better be careful."

Another woman then intervened to help Ms Bailey and the young woman but the gang then turned on her, verbally abusing her and the same again when another woman got involved.

Ms Bailey said her husband Brian had also helped a man who was robbed at knifepoint by two male youths three years ago on the red line.

"We need a transport police to ensure passengers feel secure on their commute," Ms Bailey said. "But we also need investment in young people in disadvantaged communities."

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Social Democrats candidate Carly Bailey

Social Democrats candidate Carly Bailey

RollingNews.ie

Fellow General Election candidate Christy Burke, running in Dublin central as an independent, is also chair of the Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) at Dublin City Council.

He too supports the creation of a transport police and believes anti-social behaviour on the Luas has been allowed to "spiral" for more than a year.

Mr Burke has requested an urgent meeting with Transdev and the National Transport Authority on anti-social behaviour on the Luas. He said the youths harassing passengers, are able to do so with impunity and the situation has worsened due to a lack of action.

"They feel they can do what they like," Mr Burke said. "No one has stopped them so their behaviour is riskier and riskier.

"The young men also know that if they do get arrested, the worst that will happen to them is a rap on the knuckles via the Juvenile Diversion Programme.

"I've had messages from people saying they're now too scared to go on the Luas.

"If this keeps being left the way it is, there's going to be a death, mark my words. Something serious has to be done to stop this anti social behaviour.

"We need round-the-clock marshalls on the Luas and then a transport police to be set up for the protection of passengers."

Fianna Fail senator for Dublin South Central Catherine Ardagh claimed older people are "too scared to use the red line because of teenage thugs".

She told of an incident which has been highlighted in recent days. A woman, believed to be African and from Tallaght, was targeted on the red line by a gang of youths on January 11.

Her hair was set alight but she isn't believed to have reported the incident to gardai.

"We need security to be upped on the red line," Senator Ardagh said. "Marshalls need powers of arrest. But we want a dedicated transport police then to be established.

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"My friends who use the red line don't feel safe, especially late at night. They feel scared. It's just that atmosphere of intimidation from gangs of kids."

Gardai have already told the Herald there are no plans to form a transport police. And Commissioner Drew Harris has earmarked a €23m cut in spending for the Dublin region.

A Luas spokeswoman said: "Regarding a transport police for Luas and other transport operators, we have an excellent working relationship with the gardai, however Luas is open to all discussions.

"We will continue to support communities along the Luas Lines and work closely with local community Gardaí to prevent further incidents of anti-social behaviour and to apprehend those responsible."