| 13.8°C Dublin

Roma riot on Luas in fare dodge claim

A GROUP of Roma fare-dodgers were arrested after terrifying commuters on a Red Line Luas.

Passengers were forced to dive for cover after a violent brawl broke out at the Red Cow stop with a group who refused to pay their fares yesterday morning.

A group of up to ten Roma boarded the Luas along with morning commuters at 8.15am yesterday without paying their fares, and when they were asked to leave they became aggressive and abusive.

Four of the men were arrested and one was charged in relation to the incident.

A spokesperson for Veolia, the company which operates the Luas, told the Herald that the men spiralled out of control when Luas staff checked for their tickets after they boarded the tram at the Red Cow stop.

"They were found to be boarding without tickets by staff and were asked to leave and purchase tickets," she said.

One terrified witness told the Herald: "The ticket warden, who was female, asked them to leave the tram since they had no ticket. But they started arguing and would not move to get off for her, even though she asked them firmly and repeatedly."

"At least two of them then became violent and were trying to get to Irish guys and were willing to hit anyone in the way with wild swings. One of them grabbed a crutch and started swinging it wildly," she said.

Terrified passengers on the Luas started screaming as the men became aggressive, and our witness says she feared the disturbance would escalate further.

She added: "I've emailed the Luas people to ask how this is being handled and if the police will be involved as these people are there every day."

Meanwhile a garda spokesperson said the four men were brought to Clondalkin Garda Station where one man in his 30s was charged in relation to the incident. All four have since been released.

The Veolia spokesperson said the Luas service was disrupted for four minutes because of the disturbance.

"There was a compliment made by a tram passenger in relation to the professional approach of Veolia Transport staff in dealing with this group this morning and a report has been made to Luas customer care to inform them of this incident at the Red Cow stop this morning," she added.