Antisocial behaviour on public transport set to worsen, Dáil hears

Increase in knife crime also highlighted in wake of fatal stabbing of Azzam Raguragui

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Haughey said people were ‘genuinely afraid to travel on the Dart at certain times of the day and at weekends’. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Haughey said people were ‘genuinely afraid to travel on the Dart at certain times of the day and at weekends’. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Antisocial behaviour on public transport will only get worse with the onset of summer as groups take over Dart carriages on the way to the beach, the Dáil has heard.

In the wake of the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Azzam Raguragui in a park in Dundrum, Dublin, late last week, questions were also raised with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about the escalating problem of knife crime.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the number of knives seized by gardaí had risen by two-thirds since 2016, and 264 knives were seized in the first six weeks of this year.

“No one in our society should have to suffer the loss of a child but the sad fact is it could have been anybody’s child, with knife crime becoming more and more common,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said he had heard Azzam’s father say he had trust in the justice system, police and courts to ensure the perpetrators are found and prosecuted.

“It is our job to make sure that trust is not misplaced by putting all efforts into finding those who committed the crime and to make sure that they are prosecuted so that justice can be done,” he added.

He called on “anyone who has information about this terrible crime to pass it on to gardaí and the authorities”.

The Taoiseach said he was aware of the debate in England about the increase in knife crime. “I am not quite sure if knife crimes are as frequent here as they are in the UK but they certainly are occurring and they should be of concern to all of us,” he said.

Escalating problem

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Haughey highlighted the antisocial behaviour on public transport and the Dart in particular and said it was escalating.

Mr Haughey said people “are genuinely afraid to travel on the Dart at certain times of the day and at weekends. We have glorious weather but certain people are travelling to the beaches and causing mayhem on the Dart, in some cases taking over carriages and intimidating passengers, particularly women.”

The Dublin Bay North TD highlighted media reports and concerns raised by constituents. He said “the situation will get worse over the summer” and added that “if people, especially women, feel threatened as they go about their daily business, there is a real problem”.

Mr Haughey called on the Taoiseach to engage with the Minister for Transport and to “bang heads together with Iarnród Éireann and An Garda Síochána to deal with the situation once and for all”.

Labour TD Joan Burton said “people genuinely feel afraid” and wanted to be “safe when they take a train or the Dart and when their children go out to play or meet friends in a park”.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said community projects with young people were being cut and “we have to get our act together” in dealing with and talking to young people and “providing them with productive outlets if we are to move them in a different direction”.