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end of line Taoiseach vows to crack down on scourge of 'thuggery' and drug dealing on trains

NBRU general secretary: 'Train hosts are not gobsmacked by people taking drugs anymore - that's a regular occurrence'


Transport Police, like those in the UK, may be introduced

Transport Police, like those in the UK, may be introduced

Transport Police, like those in the UK, may be introduced

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has vowed that the Government will work with gardaí and public transport chiefs to crack down on a surge in anti-social behaviour which has left workers and passengers in fear.

Mr Martin did not rule out consideration of a special transport police unit as he warned that the Government will take steps to tackle those who engage in anti-social behaviour such as drug dealing and harassment on public transport.

The Taoiseach's vow came as the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) intends to engage in industrial action in protest at the "lack of protection" for its members.

The NBRU has written to the Taoiseach, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Justice Minister Heather Humphreys as well as Irish Rail executives warning that its members no longer feel safe at work.

Last week Mr Ryan rejected the idea of dedicated transport police, saying gardaí did not believe it was necessary.

Mr Martin warned anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated - and vowed that steps will be taken to protect both workers and passengers.

"We are always concerned about anti-social behaviour no matter where it manifests itself but particularly on public transport," he said.

"We owe a lot to our public transport workers - particularly throughout Covid-19 as they continued providing vital services for us. We want more and more people to use public transport.

"The evidence is that if a good regular service is provided, the utilisation of public transport increases so it is very, very important that the staff on our trains and on our buses are protected.

"We will work with An Garda Síochána now to devise the best means of achieving that and doing that.

"In the meantime, I would appeal to the public to be supportive of our drivers and of our staff on trains and buses. And to those who may be engaged in it, to desist from anti-social behaviour."

The problems on public transport have led to renewed calls for a dedicated transport police unit.

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The NBRU warned the authorities must act to protect rail workers from "anti-social behaviour and downright thuggery which has now gone well beyond a tipping point".

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said rail workers, in particular, have been targeted for harassment and intimidation.

"Members are witnessing drug taking, drug dealing in some cases, sexual assault and threats of violence. It's horrific it's going on for many years," he said.

"Train hosts are not gobsmacked by people taking drugs anymore - that's a regular occurrence.

"People shooting up in toilets, cocaine being sniffed from tables, that is a regular occurrence."

A number of train services recently have had to stop near stations, with gardaí called to deal with incidents.

"We're trying to encourage people back onto public transport and encourage new patrons, what chance do we have of doing that if every second day they're reading [about] instances like this?" Mr O'Leary said.

Irish Rail insisted it was working extensively with employees and trade unions, gardaí and private security to fight the problem.

"Disrupting, through industrial action, the overwhelming majority of customers who are law-abiding and rely on our services daily will not achieve this," the company insisted.

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