Tuesday, 2 Mar 2021

Rape threat to female bus driver among litany of anti-social issues during Halloween 'night of hell' on public transport

A female bus driver was threatened with rape in Co Cork this Halloween during a “night of hell” across public transport services.  

Eleven incidents were recorded across Dublin Bus and Busáras on the night of October 31, which prompted the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) to call for an immediate rollout of a dedicated Garda Transport Unit.

On route 38/A, Dublin Bus did not serve Corduff, Dublin from 8.55pm due to gangs of youths, multiple fires and stolen cars joyriding in the area.

Buses were also withdrawn on the 39/A route from UCD campus (Belfield) at 8pm following “aggressiveness and crowd control issues” related to a large number of intoxicated students.

The 79 route was also terminated at Cherry Orchard Hospital, Ballyfermot due to antisocial behaviour, stone throwing and at least one broken window.

In Brookfield, Tallaght and Finglas South, routes were withdrawn due to stone throwing, stolen cars set alight and fireworks launched at buses.

But it was not just the capital that endured a night of anti-social activity on its public transport.

The NBRU reported that on Halloween a gang of men threatened to rape a female bus driver on the 220 route, which runs between Crosshaven Fort Camden and Grange Road in Co Cork.

There was also a serious incident in Ashbourne, Co Meath, when a rocket was fired at a bus when the doors were open. The device exploded in the door well of the vehicle, but luckily no one was injured.

The union also reported “absolute mayhem” at the University of Limerick, resulting in buses being redirected after 8pm. Incidents involving the throwing of stones, fireworks and eggs also led to buses being called off in O’Malley Park, Ballynanty and Carew Park in Co Limerick.

The NBRU said that while no workers were injured on Halloween night, these incidents could have led to “very serious” consequences.

“The NBRU have been campaigning for a Garda Public Transport Unit to be established for some time,” said General Secretary, Dermot O’Leary.

“The Government should heed the concerns of public transport workers and not allow for the appalling vista of someone suffering serious injury or worse before action is taken.

“The withdrawal or curtailment of public transport services due to loutish behaviour on an almost daily basis is patently not fair on the hundreds and thousands of law-abiding citizens that use these services.

“The NBRU will continue to monitor the anti-social behaviour and downright thuggery that has become pervasive across bus and rail services,” he said.

Mr O’Leary added that he was calling on all politicians to insist that the Government acts on their call “before it’s too late”.

In July, Dublin South-West TD John Lahart had called for a dedicated Garda Transport Unit after footage of a brutal attack on a man on the Luas went viral on social media.

He said the incident highlighted the urgent need for gardaí to patrol trams as well as buses and trains where violence was now “becoming the norm”.

“I and my party have been consistent in our calls for a dedicated Garda Transport Unit. There is no other way to deal with both the level and viciousness of this behaviour,” he said at the time.

“Incidents of dangerous, unruly behaviour have become far too commonplace on public transport services in Dublin. They’re now occurring daily and have become more extreme in nature.”

In May, Labour senator Kevin Humphreys urged Irish Rail to take immediate action to deal with the problem of packs of teenage boys and young men drinking on the Dart and commuter trains en route to beaches or the city during the day.

Meanwhile, Irish Rail has recently introduced a text alert service so Dart passengers can report antisocial behaviour on board trains and at stations.

The move came after the company logged more than 1,700 complaints from passengers over incidents of assault, intimidation and theft on the national rail network between 2016 and the end of last year.

This system allows service users to discreetly report issues of intimidation, assaults, thefts or other harassment to a live-monitored security centre.

Passengers can text the word TRAIN followed by location, carriage number and details of the incident to 51444.

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