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Office of Transport Minister Shane Ross warned Luas operator of 'increase in anti-social behaviour'

In one case, an eight-year-old girl had beer contents splashed on her.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

THE OFFICE OF Transport Minister Shane Ross wrote to the CEO of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) calling for greater security on the Luas due to “serious” and “unacceptable” levels of anti-social behaviour. 

Following representations from a constituent, Ross’s constituency officer Maureen Ryan wrote to TII “regarding a serious situation in his area,” documents show. 

A number of complaints, seen by TheJournal.ie under Freedom of Information, were submitted to TII in the past year in relation to anti-social behaviour on the Luas. 

“There has been an increase of anti-social behaviour in The Gallops area in recent weeks, with large groups of youths intimidating LUAS passengers (sic).

“On countless occasions he has encountered groups of youths at the LUAS (sic) platform when coming from work and that on one occasion he was blocked from getting off the tram by two teenage girls. 

He feared if he made a comment they might ask friends to come harass or attack him. 

“Such threatening behaviour is clearly unwarranted and unacceptable on public transport,” the letter said, calling for increased security to prevent the rise in these events. 

Ross has previously raised concerns for levels of anti-social behaviour on public transport but in a statement to TheJournal.ie, a Department spokesperson said the safety of passengers was a matter for operators and gardaí. 

“From the outset it should be clarified that the safety and security of passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour on the transport network, are matters for the operators, in conjunction with, as appropriate, An Garda Síochána,” they said. 

“However, the Minister has raised concerns to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff travelling and working on our public transport network and takes this matter very seriously.”

The spokesperson said they are also liaising with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in relation to the policing of public transport. 

Attack

Ryan, on behalf of Ross, raised concerns for this type of behaviour around The Gallops stop on the Luas Green Line, but other passengers have also told TII about their experiences at a number of other Luas stops. 

“I am a victim of [an] attack that happen last night on the Luas on Fatima Luas Stop (sic),” one passenger wrote. 

It was absolutely dreadful, soccer fans were chanting and hitting the train from the inside when we heard loud noises from something breaking.

They described witnessing windows being damaged and added that they left the tram. 

“They made me leave the train (sic) as most of the windows were broke (sic), there was no security visible… I had [to] walk in the dark to St James’s Stop, where I was attacked by other weird people and had to take bus to go home (sic).”

In a letter from another member of the public, and a subsequent response from Transdev, an account of an argument which turned into a physical altercation between two men was given.

“An adult male used abusive and obscene comments towards another passenger before throwing cans full of beer. My daughter is eight years old and got hit with the contents of the can. 

“Your security guards refused to call the police, and let the service continue on its way to Connolly station.

“My daughter was highly distressed by this incident… I am sickened to think that this behaviour can happen with your security  guards on board and not willing to do their job and protect your passengers.”

In response, operator Transdev said a full investigation was undertaken and CCTV footage was downloaded and reviewed. 

It stated that one man started an argument with three other men, two security officers were informed and removed the man and his two comrades.

After leaving the tram, the man then re-entered before he was removed again. They acknowledged that a lady and a child were standing right behind the men. 

“I assure you our security team acted as quickly as possible to retain the man and remove him from the tram,” they said. 

Asked if Transdev engaged with the Minister over his concerns and whether measures were put in place, a spokesperson acknowledged they received a letter and a response was issued. 

“In relation to dealing with anti-social behaviour, Transdev has an excellent working relationship with the gardaí, with whom we work with on a constant basis. 

“In addition to security, we also work with schools and community groups; this is critical as regretfully many low-level incidents of ASB are caused by young persons between the ages of nine and 15 years and many customers find their behaviour at times frustrating.”
The spokesperson also called on parents to know where their children are and to ensure they are not needlessly hanging around Luas services in groups.

luas cross city 260 Minister Ross, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, at the opening of the Luas cross city in 2017. Source: Sam Boal

Security

Last month, documents seen by TheJournal.ie showed concerns were raised over security operations on the Luas

Passengers described “volatile” and “dangerous” situations emerging over the actions of security staff, provided by STT Risk Management, on the lines. 

The Luas runs two lines across Dublin – the Red Line, between Saggart and The Point, and the Green Line, between Broombridge and Brides Glen.

A complaint submitted by one passenger in January claimed they witnessed one security officer “assaulting and restraining a member of the public at [the] Heuston Luas Stop”.

Another complaint concerned the visibility of security officers on the lines in relation to an incident, which led to coffee being poured over a number of passengers.

At the time, Director of STT Risk Management, Harry Seymour, said: “We investigate all complaints and their validity with the relevant employee and line manager. We reply to all customers within 24 hours and where an investigation takes longer to undertake, we have up to seven working days to reply.”

Earlier this year, multiple videos emerged across social media which showed staff physically restraining passengers on the ground. In one case, two officers are seen physically restraining a man on the ground while the man can be heard telling them he can’t breathe. 

Another video posted on social media shows an altercation between two uniformed Luas staff members and a young man. 

Graeme McQueen, spokesperson for the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, said that public transport in the city must be safe to encourage more people to use it.

He said a recent survey carried out by the Chamber showed less than a third of people feel safe using public transport. 

“We support the goal of getting more people to use public transport in Dublin and if that is to be achieved then a safe and enjoyable experience needs to be guaranteed. 

“Less than one in three of those polled said they saw Dublin as a ‘safe city’ while one in seven said they see it as ‘not safe’. Safety is the number one driver now when it comes to attracting tourists and also when people are deciding on a city to live in,” he said. 

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