Wrong track | 

Councillor says more gardai are needed on the streets, not the Luas, after latest attack

‘I don’t believe the Luas needs gardai to be on there acting as bouncers. It’s a waste of Garda resources’


Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A Dublin City Councillor has called for more gardai to patrol inner city streets following the brutal assault on a man at the Luas stop on George's Dock on Sunday evening.

The 29-year-old, who was set upon by up to 10 young males, was badly beaten in the attack which left him fighting for his life in hospital.

The victim, from the capital’s south inner city, remains in a critical but stable condition, although one source said “it was not looking good”.

A motive for the assault has not yet been established but one line in the investigation is that it was a “random unprovoked attack”.

It has also been reported that two suspects who were not involved in the initial assault robbed the victim’s e-scooter and fled the scene.

The incident resulted in a partial shutdown of Luas Red Line services between Connolly and the Point stations.

Cllr Nial Ring said the incident highlighted what he has previously insisted was a lack of police presence on the streets to deter such attacks.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What we need in Dublin is more gardai on the beat, it’s as simple as that. It comes up time and time again. When you ask people what would make them feel safer in Dublin? More gardai.

"I ask my 87-year-old mother what would make her feel safer going to mass and I get the same answer.”

However, Cllr Ring stopped short of calling for a dedicated Garda transport unit to patrol the city’s Luas after a series of incidents.

“No, I don’t believe the Luas needs gardai to be on there acting as bouncers,” he added. “It’s a waste of Garda resources. I like nothing more than to see a big, burly security guard on the Luas. Let the transport companies provide their own security, which they already do.”

However, one Dublin TD believes the only way to tackling ongoing antisocial activity on the Luas and other public transport systems is such a Garda unit.

Cllr Cormac Devlin was speaking following the launch of a new new Fianna Fail public transport safety survey that is asking passengers to give their insights and experiences.

In launching the survey, Cllr Devlin said the safety and security of passengers and staff “must be paramount".

"It is in the public good in every sense that public transport is used, embraced and an attractive option for the travelling public,” he said.

"It needs to be affordable, efficient but also safe. In order to further enhance and strengthen our services across Dublin, Fianna Fail want to hear the views of passengers and commuters on how we can best support safer public transport for all."

Speaking to sundayworld.com, the Dun Laoghaire TD said while the Luas Green Line goes through his constituency, “it is the Red Line that appears to be really bad”.

“I think the Luas has had its fair share of anti-social issues over the years, really, since its inception,” he said.

“And that has necessitated the very heavy presence of security on both Luas lines.

Unfortunately, that has not deterred anti-social behaviour, be that drug dealing or low level crime and fighting.

“It not only gives a very bad image of Dublin to tourists but it also deters ordinary individuals from using the service because they are in fear.

“At a time with the climate emergency we obviously need to encourage more people to use public transport, be that in the early morning, the afternoon or late in the evening.

“We’ve campaigned in the past for a dedicated Garda transport unit so that’s why we are carrying out this survey. We want the data behind us to back up our argument.

“There has to be roaming Garda presence on all transport systems,” he added. “Because employees don’t have the powers of arrest and detention. And from their perspective as well, they shouldn’t have to put up with this”

In early March it was revealed how the number of complaints of anti-social behaviour on the Luas had increased by a third.

There were 787 reports last year, according to Freedom of Information figures released to Newstalk – up from 593 in 2019.

Meanwhile, complaints of vandalism increased by almost 7% last year to 778.

The increases came despite the number of passenger journeys falling by more than half to 19 million last year.

Last month gardaí engaged in a special operation which saw patrols the Dart, Luas and eight inter-city rail routes to prevent and detect anti-social behaviour.

The second of two national Community Engagement and Rail Safety Partnership days of operation was run in partnership with Irish Rail and Transdev Ireland.

However, the issue was highlighted in the same month on a special RTE report ‘Crossing the Line – How safe is public transport?’ that examined the experience of both commuter and staff.

Over several weeks, RTÉ Investigates used hidden cameras that captured a wide variety of anti-social activity including begging, substance abuse, unruly individuals, and gangs, and even threats of violence.

While the NBRU has called for a dedicated Garda Public Transport Division to tackle what they claim is a steep rise in incidents of anti-social behaviour, this sentiment “is not shared by the transport companies”, RTE said.

In a statement to RTE Dublin Bus said it "has a strong and close working relationship with An Garda Síochána, and have set up a number of community forums in different areas across the city which has proven successful. We believe that this is the most appropriate approach".

Similarly, Irish Rail said: "While the structure of policing is a matter for An Garda Síochána, we work closely with the Gardaí and are very satisfied with the support – both proactive and reactive – to issues of ASB and public order, and with the range of initiatives taken jointly."

And the operator of the Luas stated: "Transdev is not calling for a dedicated Garda Transport Unit as policies in this regard are a matter for An Garda Síochána. We have an excellent working relationship with An Garda Síochána and believe the existing structure is very effective in dealing with incidents of anti-social behaviour."

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