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Pair suspected of causing €250k damage to Irish rail network in ‘large scale' graffiti spree

Gardai say one suspect is “known for committing similar offences in Barcelona and the Netherlands

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A suspect for causing a quarter of a million euro worth of damage to the rail network through “large scale” graffiti tagging is also being investigated for similar crimes across Europe.

Gardaí have identified two suspects for a spate of graffiti incidents between Dublin and Louth over the past three years.

Inquiries have established that the pair are “major contributors” for the “large scale” tagging across the rail infrastructure and one is also suspected of attacking a train driver.

While one arrest was made earlier this year, efforts are being made to locate the second suspect who gardaí say is “known in other jurisdictions for committing similar offences in Barcelona and the Netherlands”.

Details of the ongoing investigation into the suspects were revealed by Assistant Garda Commissioner Angela Willis, in charge of policing in Dublin, in her recent report to the city council.

Irish Rail has estimated that the damage caused by the pair to their trains and property in the past three years is in excess of €250,000.

In May, one suspect was arrested and quizzed at Clontarf garda station in relation to 11 separate incidents of criminal damage as well as an assault on a rail driver before being released without charge.

All incidents occurred on rail lines between Store Street and Drogheda, and a file is due to be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) this week.

In her report Ms Willis said that “arising from follow up investigations undertaken and proactive operations, Irish Rail report that incidence of graffiti have reduced significantly since the two suspects were identified”.

The investigations into the graffiti tagging is being run under Operation Saul, an initiative aimed at targeting anti-social behaviour and public order offences on public transport in the capital.

It includes both an overt and covert policing response on board bus, Luas, Dart and train services.

Between July and August, gardaí logged 678 of incidents relating to public transport, all but eight of which were non-crime and categorised as proactive patrolling or attention and complaints.

In the remaining cases, six charges have been preferred with one case referred to the juvenile liaison programme, while one matter remains under investigation.

Figures also show that 330 people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Dublin in the same two month period.

Gardaí detained 110 people for drug driving and 202 people for driving intoxicated while a further 18 were arrested for being intoxicated while being in charge of a vehicle.

Fianna Fail councillor Daithi de Roiste, a member of the Joint Policing Committee, described it as a “worrying trend” and raised concerns that the actual number driving under the influence is higher.

“It is shocking to me to read that throughout July and August, over 300 people were caught driving under the influence of drink and drugs. This is a worrying figure as this is the incidences where people were caught and I would imagine many multiples of this number were not caught.

“With road fatalities rising in 2022, this is a very worrying trend that we need to get on top of immediately. Nobody should be driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and the people doing this need to cop on. They are putting peoples lives at risk every time they do this,” Mr de Roiste said.

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