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Stone throwing puts Northern Ireland village bus service under threat

By Sue Doherty

The busy coastal village of Portavogie may lose its evening bus service because of youths repeatedly throwing stones at buses.

Translink confirmed that there have been six attacks on its buses in the last two months, with windows broken on both the kerb side and the driver's side of the bus.

Ards and North Down councillor Robert Adair told the Belfast Telegraph that the stone throwing attacks "have to stop".

He added: "There have been six attacks in the last two months.

"They've taken place afternoon, when students are going home from school, as well as in the evenings.

"Windows have been damaged, with stones thrown at both the passenger side and the driver's side of the buses.

"These attacks have to stop. I'd ask those who are doing this to consider the consequences of their actions: they could result in injury or even death."

According to witness reports, Cllr Adair said, there are just two young males, aged around 15, involved in the attacks and it's believed that they are not from Portavogie itself.

He appealed to anyone with information, "no matter how small or seemingly unimportant" to contact the police.

"Someone out there knows something. They need to do the decent thing and pass that information on to the police because these attacks have to stop."

Any withdrawal of the bus service, he added, would badly affect the population of a such a rural village. "We have a lot of elderly people here, who rely on the bus service, and young people, who would use buses when they are going out in the evenings. It's vital that buses stop in the village, not pass it by."

A spokesperson for Translink told the Belfast Telegraph that safety is their "top priority" and condemned the attack.

She said: "We utterly condemn stone throwing at our buses, or any form of anti-social behaviour.

"Safety of our passengers and staff is our top priority and stone throwing at buses has huge safety implications for those on board the buses and for other road users, including drivers and pedestrians - and cannot be tolerated.

"We would appeal to parents to ensure they know where their children are and what type of activity they are engaging in.

"Withdrawal of buses is a last resort but we always regard safety as our highest priority, therefore if stone throwing continues, it will unfortunately be strongly considered."

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