12 Aug 2022

Laois train station staff and vulnerable passengers abused by drug users

Laois train station staff and vulnerable passengers abused by drug users

Irish Rail train

Passengers travelling for cancer treatments, and Irish Rail staff in Laois stations and on trains, are being subjected to abuse by “a small cohort” of people who must travel to Dublin for drug treatments.

The problem has been confirmed by Laois Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlan, but he says it is “being addressed and handled”.  

“Trains are the focus of a significant Garda operation. Irish Rail contacted us and we put Gardaí on trains in Portlaoise. We remove people in breach of Covid regulations. There are people who for medical reasons travel for treatment to Dublin who may be problematic and engage in anti-social behaviour. 

“People have to use the train to attend cancer treatments but other drug treatment centres are only in Dublin and people are required to attend them too. It is a small cohort abusing and threatening people.

“We are taking people off trains if they haven’t valid reasons to travel. But bear in mind, if you take them off, you have to get them back to where they live. Perhaps they would take a car if we prevent them travelling on the train. We are very aware of the welfare of staff and patrons. 

“Iarnród Eireann also put on security. This is being addressed and handled. We have an operation involving community Gardaí in Portlaoise, to go on and deal with anti-social behaviour as the train passes. We liaise between Thurles, there are operations in all locations,” Chief Supt Scanlan said.

He spoke at the quarterly meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in Laois, held on April 14.

Cllr James Kelly had told him that train staff were assaulted.

“In Portlaoise train station they have a log book full of incidents. Drugs have been openly used on trains. Portlaoise and Thurles have become hubs for drug dealing and drug use. I’ve been on the train in Portlaoise. What I’ve seen is not good,” he said. 

Sgt Graham Kavanagh is the Community Policing Officer.

“We are looking at train stations to try and secure the locations and make them safer places for users. Irish Rail are surveying their own customers. We do board trains. This shows the public reassurance, and shows others who might want to use it for nefarious reasons to put them off. Rail use is down to 25% capacity during Covid so it will get busier again. We have asked Irish Rail to identify the more riskier locations,” he said.

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