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Airport violence shows urgent need for transport police, says justice committee chairman

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Dáil justice committee chairman James Lawless. Photo: TBurke

Dáil justice committee chairman James Lawless. Photo: TBurke

Extended delays and queues at Dublin Airport also compound the security difficulties. Photo: Frank McGrath.

Extended delays and queues at Dublin Airport also compound the security difficulties. Photo: Frank McGrath.

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Dáil justice committee chairman James Lawless. Photo: TBurke

Violent incidents at Dublin Airport, and elsewhere on public transport, show the need for dedicated transport police unit in the gardaí, the Dáil justice committee chairman has said.

James Lawless said people were rightly appalled by social media footage of vicious drunken brawling at the airport in recent days.

He further argued that it reflects a trend he has personally seen on his daily use of rail, bus and trams travelling between his Kildare North base and Dublin.

The Fianna Fáil TD has also warned that the problem is growing and dependence upon private security firms to protect the travelling public, while it is better than nothing, also carries its own dangers.

He said the issue of extended delays and queues at Dublin Airport also compounds the security difficulties.

Mr Lawless said the violent incident at Dublin Airport last week, which continued for several minutes without security intervention, had occurred in the vicinity of hundreds of people travelling in and out of this country.

Many were visitors to Ireland and there were families and children observing this awfulness.

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The Fianna Fáil TD accepted that gardaí may well have a series of other duties at the airport such as trying to deal with the risk of human trafficking, drug smuggling, visas and immigration. But he also questioned the response time to this shocking brawl.

The Kildare North TD said he frequently travels on train and also uses buses and the Luas services in Dublin.

Too often he sees menacing and unsavoury incidents which on occasion spill over into violence.

“I believe that during the Covid-19 pandemic our streets, public transport and other public spaces, were to a large degree deserted by mainstream citizens.

“This created opportunities for unsavoury elements to dominate these places and it almost licensed a sense of menace,” Mr Lawless told the Irish Independent.

Mr Lawless said that these experiences convinced him of the need to create a dedicated transport policing section within An Garda Síochána.

He said public transport companies use private security firms who helped reassure the public and keep order.

“But such people cannot have the depth of training a garda would have in intervening, questioning and detaining people. We need a more professional approach here,” he said.


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