Irish Buses, and Dart, Trains, are not Safe, too Many Assaults, on Staff, and Passengers?

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Alarming increase in ‘downright thuggery’ on buses says leader of major transport union- 

11th October 2022

There has been an alarming increase of anti-social behaviour on Bus Éireann routes, according to the leader of a major transport union.

General secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union, Dermot O’Leary, told his union’s biennial conference in Cork today that violence is being visited on staff and commuters across all modes of transport.

He said there are particular hot spots around Navan town services.

Delegates will debate a motion this afternoon calling for industrial action in response to an “alarming increase” in “downright thuggery”.

“Bus Éireann, which serves practically every community in the country, has seen an explosion of antisocial behaviour, with particular hot spots around Navan town services, with other incidents across the likes of Cavan, Galway, Drogheda, Dundalk, Dublin,” he said.

“Dublin Bus itself has ongoing anti-social behaviour issues.”

The union has been campaigning for years for a dedicated garda public transport division.

“I know that some frontline workers will speak later to their experiences and their interaction with antisocial behaviour,” he said.

Some of these stories are astounding really. The question has to be asked, what does it actually take to make those that we elect to legislate on our behalf, to put all the supporting words into action?”

He said he listened intently to what the Taoiseach had to say at the conference yesterday on the matter of a dedicated garda public transport division.

“Maybe it’s my optimistic, glass always half-full way, I took his reference to be a positive one, others might not,” he said.

He said Irish Rail injected more resources into security provision but “unfortunately it hasn’t been enough”.

Mr O’Leary said there were 2,562 antisocial incidents across the rail network last year.

In the six months from January to July this year, he said there were 1,230 incidents including 11 assaults on staff.

Mr O’Leary accused the National Transport Authority of “meddling” with frontline workers’ jobs and having a “contemptuous attitude” to their concerns.

He said this is because members are under the threat of their jobs being “auctioned on a five yearly basis to the lowest wage provider”.

The union leader claimed the authority engages in an “almost ritualistic cycle” of privatisation by tendering publicly-owned semi-state run bus routes.

“This race to the bottom needs to stop,” he said.

Referring to the fact that the Taoiseach’s father worked for CIE, he said it was a bus driver’s wages that were responsible for Mr Martin being able to get a college education.

“The wages on offer from private operators would not come even close to accessing such an education,” he said.

He warned that the union would use industrial action if necessary “to stop the plundering” of members’ terms and conditions.

Mr O’Leary said news headlines over the last few days in Cork saw people including the Taoiseach “up in arms” over the Cork version of Bus Connects, which he labelled “Bus Disconnects”.

He said the original Bus Connects plan was flawed as it would make thousands of commuters change buses “more often than a baby’s nappy”.

Meanwhile, Mr O’Leary paid tribute to Donnacha Corcoran, a train host on the Cork to Dublin service, who lost his life to Covid.

He asked delegates to applaud transport workers who ferried HSE, pharmacy, supermarket and service station staff to work during the pandemic.

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