Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD and Mayor of Navan, Cllr. Eddie Fennessy, have called on the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, to establish a public transport policing system within An Garda Síochána without further delay.
The Sinn Féin representatives made the call following a meeting with the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) where major concerns regarding anti-social and criminal behaviour on public transport services generally, and serving Navan in particular, were raised.
Deputy O’Rourke “As Transport spokesperson for Sinn Féin, I have worked closely with my Justice spokesperson colleague. Martin Kenny TD, to support proposals from the NBRU for the establishment of a dedicated unit of An Garda Síochána to address the increasing problem of anti-social and criminal behaviour – including open drug use and drug dealing, harassment and assault of passengers and staff, excessive alcohol use, and intimidation – on our public transport system.
“While these issues were infrequent in the past, this behaviour is now something that has crept into almost every service across the country. Passengers and staff on buses, trains, and trams are reporting a widespread increase in both rural and urban services. From speaking to bus workers and their representatives, they note significant problems on some services serving Navan.
“It is simply not acceptable for the government to sit on their hands any longer while this continues to fester.
“If we are going to encourage more people to use our public transport services, we must ensure that they feel safe and remain protected from a small element who see no deterrent to mindless behaviour of this kind. It is absolutely essential that public transport workers and users, alike, feel safe. The current system, where millions of euros are spent on private security firms, is clearly not working.
“We must also bear in mind that, for environmental and other reasons, we are hoping to significantly increase the numbers of people using public transport in the years ahead. This will not happen if people continue to have concerns for their safety. This is particularly the case for vulnerable service users.
“Despite repeated requests to the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Transport, they maintain there is no need for such a dedicated policing unit. In the meantime, we have seen a further deterioration in the conditions faced on some services by staff and passengers. There is mounting evidence of assault, intimidation and harassment of drivers, and repeated calls by the NBRU for the introduction of a transport policing unit to ensure the safety of their members and the public they serve.
“I am urging both the Minister for Justice and Minister for Transport to re-examine their opposition to this proposals and to introduce a Transport Policing Unit of An Garda without further delay.”
Mayor of Navan, Cllr. Eddie Fennessy, added:
“It has gotten to the stage where passengers almost expect to see open drug use and dealing on buses and around bus stops. The social problems generated by such behaviour has a negative impact on the wider community. It is unacceptable.
“Issues with the NX service in Navan are well known and need to be dealt with accordingly. The only viable solution is to create a dedicated Transport Policing Unit to guarantee the safety of staff, commuters and local communities.”