Workers on public transport need protection from anti-maskers - Labour

Workers On Public Transport Need Protection From Anti-Maskers - Labour
Footage of Luas passengers being harassed by anti-mask protesters emerged yesterday.
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James Cox

Labour have called on Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to ask gardaí to use additional Covid powers to protect workers on public transport following footage of anti-mask protesters intimidating commuters.

Gardaí have begun an investigation after protesters took over part of a tram in Dublin and told passengers to remove their face masks.


The incident took place yesterday afternoon on the Red Luas line near Heuston station, following a rally by anti-mask protesters.

Luas operator Transdev said it has passed on high-quality CCTV to gardaí to aid in the investigation.

In a statement issued on Monday night, An Garda Síochána said gardaí were in attendance at a protest that began at the Garden of Remembrance and moved to the HSE office at Dr Steevens' Hospital in Dublin 8 on Monday afternoon.

"An Garda Síochána will investigate this matter and the advices of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be sought in respect of any further actions to be taken," it said.


Gardaí said that under legislation governing the use of face coverings on public transport, regulations set out the enforcement powers of "relevant persons" which does not include members of the force.

"Members of An Garda Síochána can only act after a report or complaint by a 'relevant person' has been made.

"The regulations also provide for ‘reasonable excuse’ for not wearing a face covering."

Not only are these so called ‘protestors’ endangering frontline workers, but they are preying on vulnerable people spreading anti-science and untruths.

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Labour Transport Spokesperson Duncan Smith said: “I am very concerned about the safety of frontline workers and all users of public transport following yesterday’s disturbing scenes whereby anti-mask protestors tried to intimidate workers travelling on the Luas red line. I am particularly concerned given that this Luas line serves St James hospital and Heuston station.

“The vast majority of Irish people are working hard to adhere to difficult Level 5 restrictions in order to protect each other and reduce the spread of this virus."

Mr Smith added: “Given that the public health advice dictates that only essential workers should use public transport to travel for work, the passengers intimated by yesterday’s anti-mask protestors were all essential workers. This cannot be allowed to happen again. Not only are these so called ‘protestors’ endangering frontline workers, but they are preying on vulnerable people spreading anti-science and untruths.

“We have given the Government significant necessary additional powers to preserve public health. These people cannot be allowed to attempt this again. The Minister for Justice must ask the Gardaí to intervene and use the additional powers they have been given to ensure that if a ‘protest’ like this is attempted again that the perpetrators will be stopped and held to account."

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