'risking lives' | 

Evening bus services to Tallaght suspended amid ‘grotesque levels of violence’

This comes after 35 incidents in December alone - attacks, vandalism, threats with knives, and a female driver terrorised by a huge mob

Dublin Bus. Stock image

Conor FeehanIndependent.ie

Dublin Bus services to west Tallaght are due to be suspended from 6pm, starting this evening, after reports of 35 incidents of violence, attacks, vandalism, threats with knives, and a female driver terrorised by a huge mob in December alone.

Bus drivers have told Dublin Bus management that it is not tenable for them to “risk life and limb, driving buses into estates in west Tallaght, to be attacked and assaulted”.

In a letter to Dublin Bus from both the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu, seen by Independent.ie, they have advised that from 6pm today, and 6pm every day henceforth, routes 27, 65b and 77a will terminate at the Square Tallaght until further notice.

“The basic fact is that the Unions will not tolerate or be complicit to exposing bus workers to grotesque levels of violence. No sane-minded car user would switch to such a service unless safety is placed at the top of the agenda,” it said.

“Whilst we wish to apologise to the majority of the ordinary decent people in West Tallaght who will be adversely impacted by this Health and Safety diversion, the ordinary men and women driving buses have had enough of the almost daily diet of gratuitous violence and rampage that accompanies them whilst operating in this and other areas.”

“The restoration of bus services to normal alignments can only occur when permanent solutions are put in place to guarantee the safety and well-being of bus workers,” the letter added.

Dublin Bus has requested a meeting with the unions today to discuss the matter, but NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary has said there are many stakeholders who need to be involved in the wider conversation on the matter, and the unions can only speak on behalf of its own members.

“It’s not as straightforward as us turning up. There are other stakeholders like the community themselves, the gardai, community leaders and politicians, and also the National Transport Authority who have a big role to play in this. They have a responsibility in this too in relation to the wider rollout of Bus Connects and trying to encourage people to use public transport,” he said.

“You cannot put a plaster on a gaping wound. Something has to give, and our drivers will not resume the service after 6pm until proper conditions are in place,” he added.

The letter to Dublin Bus management has said West Tallaght is one of a few known “hot spots” for anti-social behaviour and has been the subject of stakeholder engagement for over a quarter of a century.

“Unfortunately, at a time when the levels of thuggery, violence and vandalism in these hotspots is once again reaching epidemic proportions, and in West Tallaght in particular, the levels of participation from public representatives and other stakeholders has dwindled to nothingness. The stakeholder’s forum has become a talking shop with empty chairs,” the letter states.

“It is not tenable for bus drivers to risk life and limb, driving buses into estates in West Tallaght, to be attacked and assaulted, and the supposed protocols that should kick in when attacks take place have been ignored too many times.

“December in West Tallaght alone saw 35 incidents of violence, attacks, vandalism, threats with knives, and even a female driver terrorised by a huge mob.

“The Trade Unions have long campaigned for a dedicated and fully funded Garda Transport Division. It is all very well for those in Government to dismiss or pay lip service to the notion of a dedicated Garda unit whilst simultaneously extolling the virtues of Public Transport and trying to convince car users to switch.”

“Part of the Union campaign also calls for mandatory sentencing for those convicted for attacks against frontline workers. Only the Oireachtas can enact such legislation,” it added.

“The NBRU and SIPTU remain ready to engage to discuss the terms upon which services may be restored on a sustainable basis with regard to safety,” it concluded.

Dublin Bus has been approached for comment.


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