Tuesday 11 December 2018

'I've been kicked, punched, and spat on' - Irish Rail employee shares stories of assaults

Anti-social behaviour on public transport is increasing

Stock image
Stock image

Rachel Farrell

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) is calling on the government to introduce transport police on public transport, as the number of reports of anti-social behaviour continues to rise.

Figures obtained by the RTÉ This Week programme show that there were 20 assaults on staff members reported in the last 17 months, but one staff member believes the figures only "scratch the surface" of the problem.

The Irish Rail employee, who remains unnamed, told RTÉ that he has experienced everything from being punched and spat on to having a fire extinguisher thrown at him. 

"I've been kicked, punched, and spat on. I've been hit with umbrellas on numerous occasions. I've had a fire extinguisher thrown at me. I've had rocks thrown at me. I've been hit with bikes," he said on RTÉ This Week show.

"At the start of the year in a station, my colleague was struck with a snooker ball. My colleague sustained a concussion which he was treated for in Beamount hospital. 

"A lot of people now will shout 'I'll find out where you live' which I've never had. People take pictures of you and find you on Facebook, that's a very big threat now."

Irish Rail spokesperson Barry Kenny said on air that the figures were "strong and robust" and encouraged Irish Rail staff to report all incidents of assault.

He said: "We want to ensure that this is a safe environment for passengers to travel in. We have certainly seen increases in anti-social behaviour unfortunately and to match that, we've put additional security forces in place.

"We really do encourage our employees to report incidences because you can only manage an issue effectively if you know the scale of the issue that you're facing. 

"We feel that these are strong and robust figures and we certainly encourage any employees who encounter assaults or threatening behaviour to report it to us." 

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said the figures were "appalling". 

"20 assaults in 17 months is appalling. The reality is that the security firm engaged by Irish Rail themselves have to travel in teams for their own safety, and that's a fact. 

"The only thing that will work here as far as we're concerned is a dedicated transport police. We've written to the minister over the last number of days suggesting he at least starts a conversation."

The union are calling on Transport Minister Shane ross to deploy transport police in Ireland, similar to the system in place in the UK.

RTÉ also obtained statistics that showed an increase in anti-social behaviour reports from passengers. In 2016, there were 492 recorded incidents of anti-social misconduct on train lines. By 2017, this had risen to over 700 incidents. 

Earlier this weekend, chaos emerged on board a Dart coming from a Liam Gallagher concert at Malahide Castle. 

Commuters reported incidents of people "smoking, urinating and freaking out" while one concertgoer shared an image of a window that was smashed in.

Trains saw significant delays as impatient commuters pried open train doors to walk home along the train lines, causing further delays.

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