Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD, has called on the Minister for Justice to make a commitment to introducing a dedicated transport policing division.
His renewed call comes following the withdrawal of Dublin Bus services to parts of Tallaght following an escalation in instances of criminality and antisocial behaviour in specific areas.
Teachta Kenny said:
“There had been issues for a number of years in relation to anti-social behaviour at particular flashpoints in parts of Tallaght perpetrated by a small number of individuals.
“This escalated to the point the drivers felt they had no option but to withdraw services in order to protect themselves and passengers.
“This does not in any way reflect the hard-working and decent community who are appalled by this senseless violence, a community who are now set to lose out on a vital public service.
“People rely on these services to get to work, college, or hospital appointments. They are now having to find another mode of transport in a time when they can least afford to due to the cost of living crisis.
“As recently as November, I proposed a number of actions that must be taken by the Minister, the government and the four local authorities within Dublin city and county to try and quell the antisocial and criminal behaviour we see in parts of the city and county.
“This included the establishment of a dedicated public transport police unit to address anti-social behaviour and other criminal activity on public transport and at transport hubs, something welcomed by the NBRU and Garda unions.
“A transport policing division within An Garda Síochána is priority for a Sinn Féin government, whereas Fine Gael have displayed a lax attitude towards the safety of communities during their time in government, supported by Fianna Fáil
“I welcome arrests made in relation to the Tallaght attacks. While I welcome the visibility of Gardaí on some services in Tallaght, which began yesterday, we must remember that this is occurring in the background of significant reduction of rank-and-file Gardaí across the Dublin area.
“Fine Gael have held the Justice ministry for over a decade but have abjectly failed to deliver an increase in Garda numbers, particularly in Dublin where there has been an 18% reduction in rank-and-file members since 2009 at a time when the population has grown by 15%. Many stations are robbing Peter to pay Paul just to meet basic policing requirements of communities
“While those responsible for these continued attacks must be held to account, it does not take away from the need for adequate resourcing of An Garda Síochána in terms of an increase in rank-and-file members, with a focus on sustained visibility throughout Dublin, and returning Public Order Units to pre-pandemic levels, and a move towards a transport policing division.
“Dublin must see a return to targeted community policing, a model which always catered to the specific needs of local communities. We need a coherent and deliverable plan for policing by Fine Gael, who have had more than ten years in government to design one.
“Driver and passenger safety must be a priority for both the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Transport. If we want more people using public transport, we need to ensure their safety.”