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Laois Gardai being deployed to trains as ‘drug use’ and ‘drug dealing’ taking place on rail network

Laois Gardai are being deployed onto trains in a bid to stamp out criminal activity that is happening on the network.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, Independent Cllr James Kelly told how ‘drug use’ and ‘drug dealing’ has become a very unwanted feature on trains.

He explained how he recently met with staff in Portlaoise who outlined all of the incidents they have encountered recently – including being threatened by customers.

He said: “I visited the lads in the station in Portlaoise and they showed me a log book full of incidents.

“There is a real problem with drug use and drug dealing on trains and staff have reported receiving hassle from these individuals in Portlaoise and Thurles.

“They are using the rail network for drug use and drug dealing and I know many of the staff are worried about their safety – and that of the other passengers.

“I myself have witnessed anti-social behaviour on trains and it is not good.”

In response, Chief Superintendent John Scanlan said that a serious Garda operation was underway in this area in a bid to stamp out the issue.

He said: “There is a significant Garda operation ongoing here.

“We have put Gardai on trains and we are removing anyone who we find to be in breach of the Covid-19 guidelines in terms of travel restrictions.

“The problem is that some of these individuals are attending drug or other medical appointments in Dublin – and are thus abusing this to give them a means to travel.

“However, when we receive a report of anti-social behaviour on the trains, we have community Gardai ready to intercept in Thurles, Portlaoise or Kildare.

“I know Iaranrod Eireann have hired their own security too because there is a small cohort of people who have threatened staff on trains.”

Laois Crime Prevention Officer Graham Kavanagh recently met with Irish Rail chiefs and he explained how a Garda presence is also required in car parks.

He said: “Car parks are an area that are causing concern for Iaranrod Eireann.

“They are only operating at 25% capacity due to Covid at the moment but you would expect that in increase as restrictions ease.

“So we will be helping them in that area too to ensure the problems are stamped out at source.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.