As the Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. However, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.
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 companies in conjunction with, as appropriate, An Garda Síochána (AGS). The National Transport Authority (NTA) is also engaged with public transport operators regarding the issue of anti-social behaviour. I am advised by the NTA that their Working Group on Antisocial Behaviour meets monthly where public transport providers highlight developing trends and share good practices.
The Department of Justice have advised my Department that there are a number of tools at the disposal of the Garda Commissioner, who is operationally responsible, to respond to such incidents. The Commissioner is also responsible, as the Deputy will be aware, for the management and administration of AGS. It is important to note 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. I understand that the Minister for Justice has been advised that the Garda authorities do not propose to establish a specialist or dedicated transport policing unit.
AGS's mission of 'Keeping People Safe' extends to all areas of our communities, including public transport. 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 that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to prevent and detect incidents arising.
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 AGS will continue to proactively engage with public transportation stakeholders and providers to conduct further similar operations.