Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD, today asked Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to clarify whether government will move to establish a transport policing division within An Garda Síochána.
This comes after media reports suggested that Taoiseach Micheál Martin was engaging with the Minister for Justice and Minister for Transport on the matter.
Teachta Kenny said:
“Since 2020, I have continuously raised the requirement for a dedicated Public Transport policing system as a division of An Garda Síochána.
“Most recently, when I raised it with both the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Transport in November 2021, and again in February 2022, I was told that public transport policing is not a policy that the government were pursuing as they felt it was not required.
“Today, reports in the media suggest that the Taoiseach told last night’s Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting that he will be engaging with ministers on the topic.
“It seems Fine Gael and Green ministers feel public transport is safe, while Fianna Fáil deputies are trying to find a policy to set them apart from Fine Gael.
“We have consistent reports of antisocial and criminal behaviour on a number of public transport services across the state.
“Both passengers and staff on buses and trains are reporting a widespread increase on rural and urban services.
“There are regular reports of serious assaults on passengers and staff, which are compounded by underinvestment in An Garda Síochána, who are already stretched to their limits across communities.
“For years now, there have also been reports of open drug use and drug dealing, harassment and assault of passengers and staff, excessive alcohol use, and intimidation.
“The NBRU and Garda representative bodies are 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.
“The Tánaiste was unable to offer any clarity on the matter other than to agree that some people using public transport felt unsafe and that it was having a negative impact on our transport system.
“The Tánaiste also said that he felt it was not necessary to have a division of public transport policing within An Garda Síochána, but have additional Gardaí at train, bus and tram stations, which is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.
“These mixed signals from government need immediate clarification from the Taoiseach, and to an audience wider than his parliamentary party meeting.”