I can inform the Deputy that Garda management engages extensively with transport operators, including the National Transport Authority, Irish Rail (DART and InterCity rail) and Transdev Ireland (Luas) to provide a high visibility presence through a co-ordinated approach.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to prevent and detect criminal activity and anti-social behaviour on public transport. For example, Operation Twin Track was a Community Engagement and Rail Safety Policing Initiative conducted by Gardaí in partnership with other public transportation stakeholders with the purpose of providing high visibility policing of rail and light rail transport within the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) and nationwide, and to deliver crime prevention advice.
A multi-agency review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of this operation and it was agreed that An Garda Síochána will continue to proactively engage with public transportation stakeholders and providers to conduct further similar operations.
I have been advised by the Garda authorities that each Chief Superintendent in Dublin has put in place a dedicated policing plan to tackle anti-social behaviour on public transport.
Gardaí are conducting both overt and covert patrols of various public transport networks to address incidents of non-compliance under the Health Act 1947 (as amended), incidences of anti-social behaviour or any other criminal offences.
There is currently an operation in place as part of the J District Policing Plan aimed at the prevention of anti-social behaviour and graffiti damage on the DART. The operation aims to ensure the security and safety of Irish Rail staff and passengers, prevent criminal damage to trains by graffiti, and identify and prosecute offenders engaged in defacing trains with graffiti.
There were also a number of similar operations taking place across the DMR during the Halloween period, involving high visibility patrols of public transport on Dublin Bus, LUAS and Dart services to prevent and detect incidents of anti-social behaviour.
As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including the deployment of Garda members and their allocation to Garda units. As Minister for Justice, I have no direct role in these matters.
I am advised that An Garda Síochána do not propose to establish a dedicated transport policing unit at this time. The resources provided by government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.88 billion in 2020 and €1.952 billion in 2021. Budget 2022 will see a further €2.062 billion allocated to An Garda Síochána next year. I am assured that Garda management keeps the distribution of Garda members throughout the State under continual review in the context of policing priorities and crime trends, to ensure An Garda Síochána is optimally positioned to keep our communities safe.