Fears Cork will face withdrawal of bus and train services due to anti-social behaviour

Fears Cork will face withdrawal of bus and train services due to anti-social behaviour
Buses on St Patrick's Street, Cork. Photo: Larry Cummins

The National Bus and Rail Union's (NBRU) general secretary, Dermot O’Leary, has said that there will be a withdrawal of bus and train services in antisocial behaviour "blackspots" if something drastic is not done.

The Cork native referenced an incident last week in St John's Well in Cork, where a bus driver was shot in the face with a pellet gun, as an example of the type of behaviour experienced by drivers and passengers alike. However, he stressed this was not strike action, but rather a health and safety issue.

He also said the rise in racial abuse on public transport was shocking.

"The message to the government and the National Transport Authority is enough is enough," he told The Echo.

"People are using a public service, we have had enough of the verbal and physical attacks and abuse. Something needs to be done."

"The NBRU is calling for a dedicated Garda public transport division. We are open to having discussions with the relevant authorities about this," he said.

"There are no guarantees in life, but we need assurances that when people engage in this anti-social behaviour, they will be sanctioned."

The NBRU's biannual conference is currently taking place in Douglas in Cork and Mr O'Leary said that inside the conference, anti-social behaviour is high up on the agenda.

Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail union (NBRU). Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail union (NBRU). Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

"We asked for a show of hands for who has witnessed assault or abuse on public transport. [The majority] of hands went up. When we asked for a show of hands for people who knew of a conviction or sanction for these incidents, not a single hand went up."

"There is not [enough] sanctions for people who engage in anti-social behaviour," Mr O'Leary said.

"We will have to withdraw services in blackspots because of our duty of care. It is a health and safety issue. It is not strike action," he explained.

The date of October 14 has been floated as the start date of the withdrawal because there is a spike in anti-social behaviour leading up to Halloween. 

However, the union boss said he can't guarantee it won't be before then. "There are well-known blackspots where services could be withdrawn before then. If it continues at this rate, it will happen."

"Horrible racial abuse has also happened on public transport. This has crept into our society, which is shocking," he added.

He also said the behaviour was not confined to the urban areas. "We have had abuse in Cavan, Monaghan, Waterford, and Galway, all over. It is nearly on a daily basis now," Mr O'Leary said.

He said he felt sorry for the good people living in the blackspots because they will be impacted by the cancellation of services. "The vast majority of people living in these areas are good, decent people who are just trying to use a public service. Now they will suffer. It's a minority of people engaging in this anti-social behaviour."

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