‘Could have been a lot worse’: Dublin council rubbish van stolen and crashed into rail barriers

‘I had bits of shrapnel in my hair and my clothes and I just wanted to get out of there really’: Witness left shaken by incident

Gardaí are investigating an incident in which a Dublin City Council rubbish vehicle was stolen and then later crashed into level crossing barriers at Sutton, Co Dublin.

It’s understood the crash, which happened just before 6pm, involved a small rubbish van which allegedly drove through the “fully lowered” barriers, according to a spokesman for Irish Rail.

The barriers were damaged as a result of the incident and the vehicle came to a halt a little bit further up the road. The incident caused significant traffic on the north side of the city and Dart services between Howth and Howth Junction were fully suspended.

Dublin City Council confirmed one of their vehicles was stolen from Parliament Street in Dublin 2, “while a member of our waste management staff was emptying a bin”.


“The staff member immediately rang his supervisor, who then got in touch with gardaí and gave them the details of the vehicle,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesman for the Garda said that during the course of a traffic enforcement checkpoint being conducted at approximately 5.40pm on Ormond Quay Lower, Dublin 1, a vehicle failed to stop for gardaí.

“Following enquiries, gardaí became aware this vehicle was subject to an unauthorised taking earlier in the afternoon in the north central area of Dublin city and the movements of the vehicle was monitored by a number of Garda units,” he said.

“This vehicle later collided with level crossing barriers at a railway level crossing in Sutton where it came to a stop.”

The male driver was taken to a Dublin Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No other injuries had been reported to the Garda on Thursday night.

Witness Peter Barrins from Baldoyle, who was standing at the level crossing when the incident occurred, said it “could have been a lot worse”.

“I was walking my dog this evening towards Sutton on the Strand Road from Baldoyle,” he said. “The level crossing came down, and I was just waiting to cross.

“Then a Dublin City Council van used for emptying litter bins came along at high speed. It suddenly dawned on me it wasn’t going to stop. It drove straight through the middle of the barriers and collided with the car that was right behind me.”

Mr Barrins said that the van caught a front, right corner of another car but that it “stood up quite well”.

Mr Barrins said he was about to dial 999 when a number of Garda vehicles arrived on the scene and apprehended the driver of the van.

“The guy in the van seemed to be okay,” he said. “I was about to dial 999 but I saw a line of Garda vans in pursuit and then next thing there were about 20 gardaí on top of him. He was on the ground. His shoe had fallen off. It was all just a bit of a mess really.

“The woman in the car had two kids, and there was a lady on the other side who had a few superficial cuts. Miraculously nobody was injured. I had bits of shrapnel in my hair and my clothes and I just wanted to get out of there really.

“A guard told me they had been pursuing the guy for quite a few hours at various points throughout the city. When I was walking up towards Sutton, I did see an unmarked Garda jeep pass by with the blue lights.

“It could have been a horrific incident if it had gone through the level crossing when the train had been crossing. I probably wouldn’t be talking to you now, that’s for sure.”

The Garda spokesman said investigations into all the circumstances of the incident are ongoing, and that gardaí are following a definite line of enquiry.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter