Belfast Telegraph

Police probe 'racist' bus 'attack'

Police are investigating after a Belfast city councillor was allegedly assaulted on board a bus.

Sinn Fein's Mary Ellen Campbell said she was hit several times in the head while trying to stop a racist attack.

A bus driver was also attacked during the incident on the Metro 1B bus from the Antrim Road into the city centre.

The north Belfast representative said: "I was travelling by bus to City Hall when I became aware of racist abuse being directed towards an older couple from Poland on the bus by a woman.

"She was hurling racist abuse at them and using racist language and then assaulted them.

"I, along with another passenger, intervened and alerted the driver at which point the woman became abusive to us and actually started attacking the driver as well.

"I was hit in the head several times during the incident while attempting to calm the situation."

The incident happened at about 11.40am this morning.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed offers are investigating an alleged hate crime.

Public transport operator Translink said other passengers had to be transferred on to another vehicle while an investigation was carried out.

The company is also offering a substantial cash reward if witnesses to the attack on the driver are prepared to go to court.

A spokeswoman said: "The passenger allegedly also physically and verbally assaulted a number of other passengers on board the vehicle.

"The PSNI were informed and passengers were transferred to another Metro vehicle.

"We encourage passengers to report any incidents of trespass, vandalism or assault against staff members.

"Translink will offer a cash reward of up to £1,000 if passengers are willing to go to court to give evidence that helps to secure a conviction."

Meanwhile, Ms Campbell added: "There can be no place for racism or racist attitudes in our society and I would encourage anyone with information on this incident to report it to the PSNI."

In a statement the PSNI said: " At around 12.20pm this afternoon it was reported by a bus passenger that a woman had verbally abused and assaulted a number of people on a bus travelling into the city from the Antrim Road direction a short time earlier.

"Police also received a report of assault from the bus driver however the other people reported to have been assaulted during the incident have not made contact with police and their details are as yet unknown."

Inspector Roy Watton from the PSNI has appealed for anyone with information to get in touch via the non emergency 101 number.

Later, police said a 57-year-old woman had been arrested in connection with the alleged incident.

Mr Watton said: "The woman has been arrested on suspicion of disorderly behaviour, assault on police and three counts of common assault.

"She is currently assisting police with their inquiries."

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