Policing operation under way as antisocial behaviour soars on public transport

The National Bus and Rail Union has said public transport police are urgently required
Policing operation under way as antisocial behaviour soars on public transport

An operation seeking to prevent antisocial behaviour on public transport over the bank holiday weekend is currently under way.

It comes as Iarnród Éireann has logged 2,300 incidents of antisocial behaviour over the past year, up from just under 700 in 2017 – despite a significant reduction in passenger capacity due to the pandemic.

Security teams from Iarnród Éireann will be working alongside An Garda Síochána across the weekend as part of Operation Irene, spokesperson Barry Kenny told Newstalk radio.

“We’ll have joint operations with the gardaí as part of the Garda wider operation addressing antisocial behaviour, both on public transport and indeed in popular destinations as well,” he said.

“It’s about preventing incidents, it’s about ensuring that the vast majority of people who simply want to travel and want to enjoy the bank holiday weekend can do so.”

Damien McClurg (left) of Iarnród Éireann pictured with Garda Superintendent Ronan Barry at the launch of security operation. Photo: Justin Mac Innes/Jason Clarke Photography.

Antisocial behaviour

It comes after gardaí seized a number of weapons and took two teenage boys into custody after they were alerted to an organised fight due to take place a rail line in Kilbarrack, north Dublin at around 5.30pm on Friday.

National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O'Leary said complaints of antisocial behaviour are made each day and public transport police are urgently required.

“Unless we have a police presence dedicated to public transport, you’re not going to see a drop in the behaviour that we’re witnessing,” he told Newstalk radio.

“Again in the UK where they have a... transport police for many years now, the evidence over there is that a lot of the stuff that happens on the railways here, those incidences don’t happen in the UK because people are being afraid of being prosecuted.

“There is no sanction [in Ireland] for people that engage in this type of behaviour.”

Public transport disruptions

Meanwhile, public transport is returning to normal service this weekend although a capacity constraint of 50 per cent will remain on buses, trains and trams.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has urged travellers to be “considerate of other passengers, and respectful towards public transport workers.”

“Transport operators will be taking all steps to ensure that every available vehicle is in service carrying customers, but with some sunshine due, people will want to head to our coastal towns and villages and to other beauty spots,” the NTA said in a statement.

“This means that for some services, particularly on Dublin’s DART, commuter rail and Luas, and bus services to popular destinations where demand is relatively high, the next service might be full, and you may have to wait for a following one.”

Public transport systems will be subject to some disruptions over the weekend, as Iarnród Éireann is undertaking track works between Greystones and Bray, and Luas is undertaking track works between Stephen’s Green and Beechwood.

Iarnród Éireann has said a revised timetable will be in place over the weekend on all routes on the rail line, and intercity travel must be booked in advance at irishrail.ie.

With no Dart services operating today, tomorrow and Monday between Bray and Greystones, Dublin Bus and GoAhead are accepting rail tickets.

For Dublin to Rosslare services, there will be bus transfers in operation between Connelly and Greystones.

There will be no Luas service between St Stephen’s Green and Beechwood stops this bank holiday weekend, with a bus service in place to serve all impacted stops.

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