Open cocaine use on Cork trains; calls for dedicated transport police

Open cocaine use on Cork trains; calls for dedicated transport police
Pic; Larry Cummins

OPEN cocaine use and anti-social behaviour on Cork trains have fuelled calls for the introduction of transport police.

An Irish Rail staff member has told The Echo about incidents of reckless and dangerous behaviour on trains, as the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) renewed its calls for a Garda Transport Division to police unruly passengers.

The NBRU has written to the Minister for Transport to highlight the problems that staff face on a daily basis.

Cork man Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the NBRU, said drivers and customer service workers on trains are unfairly expected to deal with drunk and drugged-up passengers.

“The message is that customer service personnel would somehow act as a deterrent or some sort of barrier against some of the appalling anti-social behaviour and outright thuggery being experienced across our train system. Nothing would be further from reality,” he said.

An Irish Rail worker in Cork has told The Echo: “Open drug use is something we come across.”

The staff member recalled an incident where a woman who was “out of it” tried to open the emergency door while the train was travelling at high speed.

“Basically, she wanted to step out of the train while it was moving at 80 miles per hour,” he said.

“Her eyes were completely dilated. You could tell she was out of it. If the woman had opened the door and stepped out, she would have been killed instantly.

“This particular passenger had to be taken off the train as she was a danger to herself and to others.

“Most people after a few drinks tend to fall asleep or throw up at worst. Drugs present a whole other host of problems.”

It’s feared that reckless behaviour could put staff at risk.

“Some people see a uniform as a target,” he said.

Union bosses have backed the claims, with Mr O’Leary adding: “The notion that those who are trained to be the interface between customers and larnród Éireann, to make the journey more pleasant, could somehow act as the vanguard against thugs, is at best questionable and it frankly could have the unintended consequence of making these innocent staff members a target for some of the worst excesses of the anti-social behaviour being witnessed across public transport.”

Irish Rail acknowledged an increase in anti-social behaviour and said: “We have increased our own security resources, with patrols up by 35%, and at national and regional level we have been working proactively with Gardaí in planning for events or known issues, and to enhance the response to incidents.

“We would agree that the role of customer service officer being introduced at present is one to prioritise high-quality customer service rather than police anti-social behaviour.

“However, it will allow customers to raise concerns, and ensure that we can swiftly call on the resources of our own private security, and Gardaí where required.”

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