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TDs call on Ministers to reverse opposition to public transport Gardaí

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Green Party TDs have urged ministers to reconsider their opposition to the idea.

TDS FROM FIANNA Fáíl, Sinn Féín and the Green Party have reiterated calls for public transport police after a man was left with serious facial injuries after an unprovoked homophobic assault on a Dublin Bus in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mark Sheehan, 26, was returning from a night out with friends when he was headbutted by a man who had called him slurs.

Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin South West, John Lahart condemned the assault today and stated that such incidents have become far too commonplace on public transport.

“My colleagues and I in Fianna Fáil will continue to campaign for the introduction of a dedicated Garda transport unit to help protect people using public transport.

“There needs to be a consistent approach to this. We must have a consistent and effective mechanism for security on public transport. People must feel safe.”

“The safety and security of passengers and staff must be paramount. It is in the public good in every sense that public transport is used, embraced and an attractive option for the travelling public,” he added.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice and Sligo–Leitrim TD, Martin Kenny said:

“Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, in their homes, and going about their daily business. I wish to extend my solidarity with the victim of this cowardly act of violence. I wish him a speedy recovery and hope that there is sufficient CCTV footage to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

“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,” he continued.

“This includes open drug use and drug dealing, harassment and assault of passengers and staff, excessive alcohol use, and intimidation.”

He called on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to reverse their positions on this issue.

Last month Ryan said that any  decisions regarding a dedicated transport police unit and the allocation of Garda resources would be outside his department’s remit and were matters for  Minister of Justice and the Garda Commissioner.

However he also added that he was against Gardaí on public transport.

“I am given to understand that the views of An Garda Síochána are that effective local community policing can meet the policing needs of the public transport network and that the Garda authorities do not propose to establish a specialist or dedicated transport policing unit at this time.”

He pointed to several measures that he felt were sufficiently discouraging anti-social behaviour, such as CCTV,  high visibility public safety operations and textlines for reporting crime or aggressive behaviour.

In November Helen McEntee said that there was no proposal to establish a specific public transport unit in the Gardaí.

“At the same time, the Garda Commissioner will always keep these matters under review,” she said.

“It is important to continue the work being done, which is effective. If the problem escalates or continues to disimprove, I am sure the Garda Commissioner will take that on board.”

Ryan’s Green Party colleague, Neasa Hourigan disagreed with his viewpoint however, telling RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime today: “There does anecdotally seem to be an uptick in those kinds of attacks, post-Covid.”

“We need people to use public transport and to do that they have to feel safe,” the Dublin Central TD said.

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