Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD has reiterated his calls for the Minister for Justice to establish a transport policing system within An Garda Síochána "without any further delay."
Speaking earlier today, Teachta Kenny said, “Last November, I raised the issues facing staff and commuters using public transport with the Minister for Justice. At the time, the Minister maintained that there was no need for a dedicated transport policing unit to serve public transport.
“Since then, we have seen a further deterioration in the conditions faced on some services by staff and passengers. Only last week a man from my own constituency recounted his experiences on our national broadcaster in relation to the Sligo-Connolly line where he witnessed antisocial and criminal behaviour, something that is repeated on almost every trip.
“This includes open drug use and drug dealing, harassment and assault of passengers and staff, excessive alcohol use, and intimidation. While these issues were infrequent in the past, this criminal behaviour is now something that has crept into almost every service across the country. Both passengers and staff on buses, trains, and trams are reporting a widespread increase on both rural and urban services.
"It is simply not acceptable any longer for the government to sit on their hands while this continues to fester. If we are going to encourage more people to use our public transport links, we must ensure that they feel safe, and remain protected from a small element who see no deterrent to mindless behaviour of this kind aboard a public service”.
“I was utterly dismayed in November when the Minister denied the need for a transport policing unit.
"When I revisited the idea with the Minister again in February, the answers I received were the same – the Department of Justice and the NTA feel there is no requirement for a unit of An Garda Síochána to be dedicated to transport policing.
“This is despite the mounting evidence of assault, intimidation and harassment of drivers, and repeated calls by the National Bus and Rail Union for the introduction of a transport policing unit to ensure the safety of their members and the public they serve.
“The NBRU is also acutely aware of the experiences faced by some public transport users who have ceased use of the transport services due to previous bad experiences while on board.
"Some passengers have reported to the union of feeling unsafe due to previous instances of criminal behaviour onboard a variety of services, something that is particularly true for young women, and people with disabilities who feel most vulnerable.
“I am urging both the Minister for Justice and Minister for Transport to re-examine their opposition to a Transport Policing Unit of An Garda Síochána without further delay.”
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