Irish Rail to spend more than €5m on security this year as antisocial behaviour worsens

Irish Rail to spend more than €5m on security this year as antisocial behaviour worsens

Concerns have been raised over the safety of Irish Rail staff given the level of anti-social behaviour and public order issues occurring on the rail network. File picture: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

Irish Rail expects to spend €5.2m on security this year, an increase of €1.5m since 2016.

The increase in security resources has seen up to 20 security teams operating daily on board trains and in stations, according to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan.

However, this increased spend on security shows the need for a different approach to tackling anti-social behaviour on trains, according to Sinn Féin's transport spokesperson Darren O'Rourke.

"Increased spending on security doesn't address the underlying issues," he said. "Nobody should have to put up with [such behaviour] in their own workplace. They shouldn't feel intimidated, or be afraid or reluctant on the basis of what might transpire. This goes for passengers and for staff alike."

It comes as a joint initiative from Irish Rail and An Garda Síochána aiming to tackle anti-social behaviour on the rail network began in May while 2,852 fixed penalty notices were issued for fare evasion in June and July, alone.

Concerns have been raised over the safety of Irish Rail staff given the level of anti-social behaviour and public order issues occurring on the rail network.

Call for public transport branch of gardaí

At the weekend, the National Bus and Rail Drivers’ Union reiterated its calls for a dedicated public transport branch of the gardaí, and said its members may take industrial action unless their “unsafe” work environment is given “protection” in the face of anti-social behaviour.

However, ministers have said the gardaí do not propose the establishment of a dedicated unit at this time.

Statistics for the 12 months to June 2021 show there were nearly 2,300 incidents of aggressive behaviour, assault, hate crime and other anti-social behaviours reported, averaging at at least six per day.

Irish Rail spent €3.7m on security for 2016, but this is expected to increase to €5.2m this year, Mr Ryan said in response to a parliamentary question from Mr O'Rourke.

“A new security monitoring centre, which is in operation since January 2021, has played a key role in targeting high risk locations with a particular focus on groups of youths with bicycles using the network to avoid Garda road checkpoints,” the minister said.

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