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Translink slated over driver's 'bum-busters' Pride parade comment

Firm's silence on sanctions against homophobic tirade driver 'a cop-out'

By Claire McNeilly

Published 07/08/2015

Some of the thousands of participants and supporters at Belfast Pride last weekend
Some of the thousands of participants and supporters at Belfast Pride last weekend

Translink has been accused of abdicating its responsbilities by refusing to outline the disciplinary measures imposed on a bus driver who made homophobic remarks over an open radio network.

And Ukip's David McNarry said the employee had a professional duty to apologise to the public for his derogatory comments - and that such an apology should be transmitted through Translink.

The Stormont MLA also called on Northern Ireland's public transport provider to confirm to what level its code of conduct had been broken.

He was speaking after a driver sparked controversy by telling his supervisor over the radio he couldn't get his bus through Belfast because there were "too many bum-busters" on the road.

It happened during the 25th Gay Pride celebrations in the city centre last Saturday.

It is understood the driver, whose remarks were heard by passengers, colleagues and Translink bosses, has not been suspended, nor has he said sorry for his comments.

Translink said a full investigation "has been carried out" and that appropriate action "is being taken".

Mr McNarry said the company's actions were nowhere near good enough for a public service provider. "I don't support Gay Pride but Translink is being very silly-minded," he said.

"It has a duty to resolve this in the public domain because the driver brought it into the public domain in the first place. When something becomes a public issue there is no hiding place. That kind of derogatory language is unacceptable in the workplace. The public needs to decide if the driver's punishment is acceptable. Translink has a duty of service to transmit an apology from that driver to the public.

"They are demonstrating, once again, their inability to recognise that they have a duty to the public and, therefore, they are running away from those responsibilities."

A furore erupted on the Nolan Show on Thursday morning after a whistleblower's letter describing the incident was read to listeners, and there were subsequent calls for the driver to be sacked. John O'Doherty from the Rainbow Project, an organisation that supports the LGBT community, called for perspective on the matter and asked for reassurances that the issue was being taken seriously.

"I don't think it's a sackable offence but Translink needs to be clear on what disciplinary action has been taken and whether or not the staff member has expressed any remorse," he said.

"I don't need to hear from the driver, I don't need to know his name, I just need to know that Translink have done their due diligence in assessing the level to which he has broken the rules of working for them.

"Is Translink taking any steps to ensure that this won't happen again?

"Is Translink going to examine its policies and procedures and make sure staff understand what is required of them?"

Mr O'Doherty said it would be unacceptable for a driver to make a derogatory comment about someone's race, nationality or disability, and it should be the same for their sexual orientation or their gender.

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