The safety and security of passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are matters first and foremost for the individual public transport transport companies in conjunction with, as appropriate, An Garda Síochána.
While the vast majority of public transport passenger journeys occur without incident, I am concerned to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff travelling and working on our rail network. Therefore, following representations from the National Bus and Rail Union who called for the establishment of a dedicated police force for public transport, I wrote to Irish Rail and the Railway Safety Advisory Council (RSAC) to seek their views on the issue of anti-social behaviour on the rail network.
In its response, Irish Rail outlined a number of measures that the company has taken in an effort to safeguard the security of passengers and staff. These measures have included the allocation of additional security and supervisory operatives, particularly at night and in certain areas, as well as more resources for centralised CCTV monitoring stations. The company also stated that it works closely with An Garda Síochána on anti-social behaviour in general and receives the full support of the Gardaí. The RSAC, in its response, recommended the establishment of a dedicated unit of An Garda Síochána to police our rail network on occasions when the possibility of anti-social behaviour is high.
Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus were also contacted for their views and both companies responded that the level of anti-social behaviour is relatively low and noted a declining trend which is very positive. Both companies also stressed the strong and close working relationships with An Garda Síochána.
Following engagement with the public transport companies and the RSAC, I wrote to the Minister for Justice to seek his views as to how we might best address the issue of anti-social behaviour on our transport system, in particular on the Irish Rail network. I have asked that the Minister consider this issue in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, given that the allocation of all Garda resources, including the manner in which Garda personnel are deployed, is solely a decision for the Garda Commissioner and his management team.