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Bus drivers abused online in wake of row over Linfield coat

Published 02/11/2015

Gareth in his Linfield FC coat
Gareth in his Linfield FC coat

Translink drivers are being abused and threatened on social media after a teenage boy claimed he was barred from a Metro bus because of the Linfield Football Club jacket he was wearing, a union representative has said.

Gareth McKelvey claimed he was not let onto a bus on the Lisburn Road last Wednesday as he tried to make his way to work at a charity shop. The 16-year-old told UTV the driver said it was because of the coat he was wearing.

But Translink said events "did not happen as reported". The transport company said it conducted a thorough probe of the evidence available - including a full review of high quality CCTV to identify the facts.

"From the evidence, we can concur that this incident did not happen as reported," Translink said after the investigation, adding that there was no policy on what passengers wore.

Unite's Michael Dornan welcomed the company's action but said drivers had been left facing a difficult situation.

"Bus drivers employed by Metro come from all parts of the community. On a daily basis, we look after the safety and welfare of all those using public transport and we do that without prejudice," he said.

Mr Dornan said in the wake of the incident some workers were the target of abuse and threats on social media, which led to service disruption. "What's worse is that the CCTV evidence of the event is clear and shows that there is no substance whatsoever to the allegation made," he added.

Mr Dornan said he hoped that those that have repeated the allegations on various websites "will now realise that it was not a true version of what happened".

Unite officer Davy McMurray said drivers had been "at the receiving end of abuse and threats on social media".

"Sometimes people make comments on social media without the facts and as a consequence, wrongly hurt and offend individuals, I'm hoping this is the case and people can retract the abusive comments made," he added.

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