Newswire » Your Say! » Antisocial Behaviour Is On The Rise

Antisocial Behaviour Is On The Rise

Antisocial Behaviour Is On The Rise

Whether it’s on the streets, on public transport or in the workplace there’s been a noticeable change in recent years regarding what is and is not acceptable in how we speak to and interact with others, but what lies behind it, and are there solutions?

The influx of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures drawn to Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years and through the expansion of the EU brought with it subtle changes in the words we use and our personal interactions, most of it benign and a lot of it for the better. The city is louder, and more expressive.

Technology too has played a part: today we carry phones in our pockets which allow us instant, and free, often uninhibited communication with people all over the world as well as an endless supply of music and video from Hollywood blockbusters to the latest antics of Aunt Eileen’s tabby tomcat on TikTock, on full volume. Your new iPhone probably has no jack for headphones and you don’t know jack about how to behave, in public.

Anyway it might drown out the ranting of the guy smoking crack two rows away.

In April this year a delegation from the SIPTU trade union outlined the issues experienced by their members working on Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, Bus Éireann and the LUAS services, to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. The picture painted wasn’t a pretty one.

“I’m 30 years on the railway … I’ve never seen things as bad…the antisocial behaviour is just getting worse all the time,” union member Tommy Wynne explained, his comments echoed by Stephen Millane who works with Dublin Bus, and who added that violence, threats and racist comments make hiring and retaining staff increasingly difficult.

A survey conducted as part of SIPTU’s “Respect Transport Workers” campaign found that almost 80% of respondents believe drug use on public transport has gotten worse over the last year. The committee heard that three- quarters of transport staff feel threatened by drug use by passengers. Anecdotally there seems widespread agreement that there’s now a large gap between what some people see as acceptable and conduct others view as a completely unreasonable and antisocial on the train or bus.

In the air too threats and fists fly with BBC, RTE and other news outlets reporting on a surge of rowdy behaviour on Ryanair and other carriers.

It’s not transport. Anyone who has been to a concert recently will notice the slow death of politness as some patrons now talk through the performance and it’s a similar story at the cinema and theatre where again complaints or requests for quiet are often met with aggressiveness or violence by people who figure than once they’ve bought their tickets they can do what they like and when they like.

On the street it’s the same, with the temporary shutdown of the The Portal between Dublin and NYC a good example of how anti social behaviour by some dictate the experience for all.

In 2024 recreational drugs are seen as a normal part of life not just in working class communities blighted by lack of access to education and decent employment but in far more affluent areas of town too, the right to self expression trumping all.

The solutions to all of this are not simple but what lies at the heart of the issue?

“Manners Maketh Man,” wrote William Horman, Headmaster of Eton School 100 tears before anyone had heard of Shakespeare.

Citizenship confers with it all sorts of advantages to us but it also comes with responsibilities which are threads essential to the fabric of society.

It’s something we can see in a very practical way in the huge rise in deaths on our roads recently. Infrastructure, and regulation are essential in making driving safer and are obeyed by most of us, most of the time because it’s seen as the right thing to do and there are penalties if we don’t comply and are caught.

The downward trend in deaths has changed since COVID however and statistics from the Gardaí show that by May 70 people died on our roads, close to one third higher than this point last year, which was the deadliest annual return for over a decade.

Drink driving, once a normal part of a night out had became totally unacceptable but it appears to be on the rise again, as well as drug driving. Reports of fatal crashes involving single cars with young people at the wheel are an almost weekly now leading many to question if alcohol and narcotics have played a part in the terrible events. Though speed kills in every sense of the word positive drugs tests are rarely mentioned in the coroner’s reports carried in the press, possibly to save grieving relatives further anguish but this consideration may need to be changed if we are to drive that message home.

Social Justice Ireland has in turn tried to get it’s message out there, a call for a reevaluation of the social contract between citizens and the state. Without access to good jobs, the ability to secure housing, healthcare, and education – something clearly lacking not just in Ireland – the organisation warns more and more will become disenfranchised and apathetic, simply refusing to co-operate with rules and regulations

Respect, manners, and etiquette seem old fashioned terms now but hold the key to a lot of these problems Ireland faces today. We shake hands today out of habit – originally it was to prove you were not carrying a dagger.

400 years ago Louis XIV built upon the French reputation for good manners and codified rules of etiquette for a very practical purpose: to strengthen his political position. The Sun King ordered the production of little cards (étiquettes) to remind noblemen visiting Versailles about what was acceptable to wear, where to sit and how to behave, guidelines further expanded upon and adopted elsewhere during the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century in order to signify one’s status. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin wrote similar “rules of civility” for Americans which still form the basis for good manners.

What does this have to do with us today? Quite a lot. The deadly feuds which grab headlines in our papers today might leave us wistfully revisiting the past with rose tinted spectacles but nostalgia really isn’t what it used to be. A real or perceived lack of respect for others is bad for your health, then and now.

For the working classes the chaos of the Donnybrook Fair offered the likes of the Liberties weavers and the Ormonde butchers the chance to settle scores. Fights were so common that today in the USA the suburb’s name is still used to describe a mass brawl, but among the well-to-do of the time the slightest disrespect shown by one gentleman to another, or any lady under his protection, was taken more personally.

If letting someone know you were scarlet for their ma in the 1700s didn’t result in you taking a boot to the family jewels in Ballsbridge some gent in a powdered wig would end up challenging you to pistols at dawn in the Phoenix Park. Of course if you didn’t want to cross the Liffey the yard at Lucas’s Coffee House, and the Eagle Tavern on Cork Hill, close to Dublin Castle were handy. A quick Guinness before a duel to the death as Liberties locals took bets on the odds you’d survive on the spot that is now our City Hall.

And they say the council meetings get rough!

Such solutions are admittedly a bit too bloody for our modern age.

However enlightening children from the very start about what is and isn’t acceptable would be a positive move.

You know what? Adding Citizenship as a subject from the very start of Junior Infants, and making it obligatory at Leaving Cert level alongside English, Irish and Maths could be a good start.


Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design