Like me, I am sure the Minister was horrified to receive reports about the incident that occurred at Clongriffin DART station on Tuesday night. This was a very shocking and traumatic experience for the passengers and Irish Rail staff who witnessed the atrocious anti-social and criminal behaviour that occurred. What was reported in the media as "an unprecedented graffiti attack" seems to have been much more sinister, with up to 20 young people, allegedly wearing balaclavas and armed with knives and lumps of wood, blocking the doors of a train at approximately 10.30 p.m. More shocking still is that it appears there may have been two rival gangs the members of which then fought among themselves to damage the train. We cannot imagine the terror for the passengers on that Dublin to Malahide DART train.
Regrettably, although this attack reached a new level of depravity, it is not an isolated incident. In recent years, a small number of miscreants seem to have repeatedly vandalised this station and terrorised commuters. I have visited the station many times and have contacted An Garda Síochána and Iarnród Éireann since 2016 to convey the complaints and annoyance of so many citizens from the area. I had previously requested that a full-time security team be placed at this station, for regular Garda patrols and for the installation of a full CCTV system and other increased security measures. This week, I again contacted our local superintendent and chief superintendent of An Garda Síochána to ask what they are doing to improve security at the station and ensure passenger safety in light of the appalling incident on Tuesday. I repeatedly contacted former Irish Rail CEO, David Franks, and have now also contacted the acting CEO, Jim Meade, regarding this criminal activity.
For approximately eight years before its opening in 2010, the people of the new estates in Beau Park and Clongriffin, in Dublin 13, campaigned for the Clongriffin DART station and were delighted with its impressive design and facilities. However, over the past three years, particularly since the middle of 2016, I have received numerous emails, calls and visits from concerned constituents who are living in fear. Clongriffin, Belmayne and the Coast in Dublin's north fringe are growing areas in which many young, hard-working families with children live. There is a wonderful sense of community among the people who live there, with regular and well-attended community meetings, although the delivery of education, health, shopping, crèche and security facilities has been dismally slow from the main developer, Gannon Homes, Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council. Residents believe that Clongriffin DART station is being targeted because of its distance from the district Garda station, which is located over three miles away in Coolock. Residents report that it can take over 20 minutes for gardaí to arrive on the scene of an emergency. In some instances, where residents have reported stolen cars, suspicious behaviour and other anti-social behaviour, particularly in the station and near Fr. Collins Park, I am told that it has taken over an hour for gardaí to arrive. For most of my political career, the people of Donaghmede - a large parish of more than 4,000 houses where many of the north fringe estates, including Clongriffin, are located - have demanded their own Garda station, but have never got it.
It has never been realised.
The station has been targeted for a long time. Irish Rail has had to replace the front two main windows on numerous occasions before finally opting for an unbreakable front option which is not as aesthetically pleasing. During last summer, 42 out of 45 of the glazed panels had been smashed or shattered. Two weeks ago, during the daytime, there was also a robbery of a cash-in-transit van.
The residents of Clongriffin are growing tired in their efforts to create a positive community spirit only to have repeated attacks on their public transport facility and neighbourhood, and there is a growing unease over using their local DART station. This disgraceful nonsense has gone on long enough. It is now critical that Irish Rail, Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Gannon Homes, Cairns Homes and other key stakeholders get together with public representatives and An Garda Síochána to ensure that this breakdown in law and order stops immediately and never reoccurs.