Call for Garda Public Transport Division as Irish Rail worker 'attacked with snooker balls in socks'

The National Bus and Rail Union is calling for a dedicated Garda Public Transport Division.

Call for Garda Public Transport Division as Irish Rail worker 'attacked with snooker balls in socks'

The National Bus and Rail Union is calling for a dedicated Garda Public Transport Division.

The union has renewed calls for the division on the back of increasing anti-social behaviour.

Figures obtained by RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke show there have been 573 reports of anti-social behaviour and 11 assaults on Irish Rail staff up to September 9 this year.

NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said, in a statement, that: "The NBRU has been campaigning over recent years for a dedicated Garda Public Transport Division in response to the increase of anti-social behaviour and serious assaults on staff and commuters.

"We have, over the last number of months, been calling on both the Minister for Transport and Justice to commit to establishing a dedicated unit within An Gardaí, the response to-date has amounted to words of comfort and understanding.

"As encouraging as those words may be, they simply do not go far enough towards addressing the concerns of the Frontline Staff that work across our Public Transport Services.”

Dave Fitzsimmons, a Dublin Bus driver, told Today with Sean O'Rourke that he had been spat at and told that he "was going to be get" adding that "enough is enough."

Mr Fitzsimmons said that he spat at in the eye by a cyclist, highlighting that other road users also proved a threat.

"I was spat in they eye from a cyclist and it's the most degrading thing that has happened to be personally.

It felt like a punch in the face, to honest with you. It's really knocked my confidence.

Meanwhile, Darren (whose surname was withheld) is a ticket checker with Irish Rail who patrols DART stations.

"We had a serious incident at the start of the year. (With) a colleague of mine, we were attacked with snooker balls in socks," said Darren.

"My colleague sustained a bad concussion and was treated at Beaumont Hospital.

"I've been chased up the platform with knives and sticks."

Both men said they frequently get verbal abuse with Mr Fitzsimmons saying "I've been called all the words under the sun.

"And you just have to sit there and take it, unfortunately. Because you have to be the bigger person.

"But you shouldn't have to be the bigger person because you shouldn't have to be resorting to that sort of language and that sort of intimidation on a regular basis."

You can listen to the full interview on Today with Sean O'Rourke below.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Robert Troy has called on Trasport Minister Shane Ross to immediately address the anti-social behaviour on public transport.

"Both Irish Rail workers and passengers are regularly left distressed and inconvenienced by reckless behaviour. Arguments, brawls, people carrying weapons and general soiling of the carriages are all regular occurrences," said Mr Troy

"There are workers who are petrified as they begin their shifts each day and there are passengers who avoid public transport at all costs as a result.

"Minister Ross needs to take urgent action for the sake of Irish Rail staff and passengers. He needs to engage with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on this issue to discuss and coordinate a response to these attacks."

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