IrelandParents should face fines if children engage in 'anti-social behaviour' says Willie O’Dea
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Sanctions such as fines or a halt to social welfare payments should be brought against parents who fail to prevent their children from engaging in anti-social behaviour, a former Defence Minister has claimed.
Veteran TD Willie O’Dea said parents of children who run around tormenting the young and old and causing public disturbances should take responsibility for the actions of their offspring, said Mr O’Dea, Fianna Fail’s spokesman on social protection.
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If they fail to do so, parents should be fined or have their social welfare payments cut, insisted the former defence minister.
His calls come as anti-social behaviour on public transport from children as young as nine reach “crisis” point.
“Some parents are allowing their children to behave in such a way that they are out of control,” Mr O’Dea told the Sunday Independent.
“They should take some responsibility for that. They should be penalised in some shape or form, either through fines or having their social welfare stopped.”
Deputy O’Dea’s comments come as the number of disturbances and crimes on public transport have surged in the past two years.
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The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has said the rising level of anti-social behaviour on public transport has reached a crisis point following a huge spike in the number of incidents last year.
Both gardai and the Luas operators Transdev’s private security teams are working to address anti-social behaviour - which is being committed by children as young as nine in some areas of south Dublin.
“Kids aged nine to 15 years can be a most troublesome group,” a spokeswoman for Transdev told the Sunday Independent.
“Loud and fearless, they don’t understand their behaviour is upsetting others. Security’s role here is to move them on, to be customer-focused, friendly and authoritative,” she added.
But Mr O’Dea insisted that the final responsibility for children’s disturbing behaviour lies with parents.
“If there is evidence where a parents doesn’t know where their child is and what they are getting up to, especially in cases of anti-social behaviour, then action needs to be taken,” Mr O’Dea said.
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“Parents have a huge role in this and they should be forced to act when they otherwise don’t.”
Last week, Irish Rail announced plans to introduce a text alert system for passengers who witness anti-social behaviour during their train journeys.
The past few months have seen a surge in reports of disturbances, according to Irish Rail, as well as open drug use by some passengers.
Many of the incidents are taking place on Dublin trains, although the NBRU called for a dedicated transport police in March, after open cocaine use was reported on Cork trains.
Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the NBRU, insisted action must be taken.
“The almost daily occurrence of physical and verbal assaults on frontline public transport staff needs to be recognised and indeed categorised as a crisis at this stage,” he said.
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