Sunday 25 August 2019

'We need a garda transport unit' - calls for increased surveillance on Luas as footage of brutal attack emerges

Warning: This article contains an image showing violence

File photo
File photo

Allison Bray and Gabija Gataveckaite

A DUBLIN TD has called for a dedicated Garda Transport Unit after footage of a brutal attack on a man on the Luas went viral on social media.

Dublin South-West Fianna Fail TD John Lahart said the footage of the violent assault on the Luas Red Line earlier this month highlighted the urgent need for gardai 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," Mr Lahart said yesterday.

"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."

Two men involved in a fight on a Luas
Two men involved in a fight on a Luas

He made the comments after graphic footage of a violent incident involving two men went viral yesterday.

The incident happened on Saturday, July 6, at around 6.15pm when the tram would normally be packed with commuters, families with children, tourists and others going about their business on what was a pleasant summer evening.

The footage, captured on a mobile phone camera, shows two men grappling on the floor of the tram before one stands and proceeds to punch and kick the prone man on the head and body a number of times.

Other passengers can be heard pleading with the man to "stop it, stop it" before most of the passengers flee in terror.

The two men, aged 40 and 47, were hospitalised with non-life-threatening injuries.

However, one man sustained serious head injuries and was taken to the Mater Hospital. The second man was taken to St James's Hospital.

Mr Lahart, Fianna Fail's Dublin spokesman, said such incidents were not only becoming more commonplace in the capital, they were becoming increasingly vicious.

"The Government must get involved and stop deferring to the transport companies," he said.

The level of violence and anti-social behaviour now being witnessed on public transport requires the presence of gardai who can arrest culprits on the spot, he added. Dublin Fine Gael TD Noel Rock has called for Luas security to be reviewed.

"I have been made aware of distressing footage that has emerged on social media of a violent assault that is alleged to have occurred on a Luas tram in recent weeks," he said.

"The footage appears to show a grotesque and violent assault taking place in broad daylight."

He called for the National Transport Authority (NTA) to work with Luas operator Transdev to review the security system on board the trams.

"I believe the NTA and Transdev need to collaborate and ensure more security is put in place to safeguard members of the public who use the Luas on a daily basis," he said.

"I believe it is time for all public transport operators to come together to address the issue of passenger security."

A 40-year-old man was arrested in relation to the alleged assault and questioned before being released without charge the following day.

A spokesperson for Transdev said it would not be commenting further as the incident remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, Irish Rail last night confirmed that a text alert system will be in place across the rail network by the end of this month.

The move comes 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.

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.

They then become even more intoxicated with drink and drugs on their return journey.

"It makes other passengers extremely uncomfortable and women bear the brunt of it," he said.

Herald

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