The general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), Dermot O’Leary, has renewed calls for the establishment of a dedicated Garda transport unit.
The call to action follows a number of incidents in Cork in recent weeks, including the serious assault of a teenage boy in Carrigaline at the weekend.
On Saturday night, a teenager sustained a number of apparent stab wounds. It is understood that the incident involved some individuals who had travelled by bus to Carrigaline.
Local councillor Seamus McGrath said a number of incidents had taken place in the suburbs in recent weeks, “where lives could have been lost”.
“I don’t understand how a big gang like this could be allowed on board, because of social-distancing regulations,” he said. “There is definitely a pattern here, as this is not the first time that gangs have travelled on the 220 bus service and caused trouble here in the town.”
The Fianna Fáil councillor said there appeared to be a pattern of individuals who had travelled by bus being involved in incidents.
Mr McGrath said that a system should be put in place to allow bus drivers to warn authorities if they have concerns about suspicious behaviour.
“Bus Éireann and gardaí need to sit down together,” Mr McGrath said.
“There needs to be a warning system in place, some protocol where a driver could access gardaí.”
Mr McGrath acknowledged that bus drivers are very busy with their existing duties, but said that they should be able to contact gardaí if “a gang arrives and the driver senses they are up to no good”.
However, Mr O’Leary was critical of the idea and said that policing was a job for An Garda Síochána and not drivers.
Mr O’Leary said that there has been a “considerable amount of antisocial behaviour incidents” involving transport in Cork in recent times.
“The days of there being hotspots are gone: This is widespread,” he said.
Mr O’Leary said it has been two years since the NBRU first called for a dedicated Garda transport unit and he reiterated calls for its establishment.
“This is spread far and wide, and it is time, now, for action. There is a requirement, now, for a dedicated Garda transport unit,” he said.