Belfast Telegraph

Driver hit with brick by gang of youths during attack on Glider bus in west Belfast

Union calls on public to help bring offenders to justice.

The attack happened on a Glider bus in west Belfast on Thursday night.
The attack happened on a Glider bus in west Belfast on Thursday night.

By Mark Edwards and Andrew Madden

A bus driver and ticket inspector have been attacked by a gang of youths while working on a Glider bus in west Belfast.

The incident, which happened on Thursday night, saw the ticket inspector assaulted and dragged off the bus by a group of six to eight youths.

When the driver tried to help him a larger group of youths joined in the attack and hit the driver with a brick.

Davy Thompson, of the Unite Union which represents Translink workers, called on the public to come forward to help identify those involved in the assaults.

He said: "Yesterday evening a Customer Revenue Protection Officer who challenged rowdy behaviour by a group of approximately six youths was attacked and dragged out of the bus and beaten while the driver, who attempted to help, was struck with a brick and the pair were then assaulted by a bigger crowd of up to twenty before the arrival of Translink support and the police."

Mr Thompson said the incident happen on the Glider service heading into Belfast, close to the Twin Spires after the Falls Road.

“The thoughts of everyone in Unite are with those workers who were hospitalised in this assault," he said.

"We hope that they make a swift and full recovery."

Mr Thompson said the incident shows that public transport workers face an "increased threat" at their place of work.

"Workers have the right to go about their day’s work entirely free from the threat of assault – the right to leave their homes in the expectation that they will be to be safe," he added.

“This assault on these workers is an attack on every worker in Northern Ireland. Our union stands in close solidarity with those attacked.

“Only last month, Unite highlighted the upsurge in assaults on bus and rail drivers and inspectors across Translink services and called on management to provide greater protections at work.

"While body-cameras help secure convictions they do not stop those determined to attack workers. Those responsible must face the full weight of the law."

“The Glider service has proven to be a huge success since it was launched three months ago - it has transformed the public transport infrastructure of Belfast.

"Those who provide that service need to feel safe in their place of work. We have to ask ourselves - is this the type of society we want to live in where elderly people, young couples with young children are scared to get on a bus?

"Anyone in the local community who has knowledge of those responsible to come forward and help Translink and the police in their investigations”.

Police said they received a report of an incident on a bus in the Northumberland Street area of the city at around  8.50pm.

“A number of youths who had boarded the bus were reported to have become rowdy and two members of staff were subsequently assaulted," PSNI sergeant Connollly said.

“Anyone who witnessed what occurred should contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 1443 of 27/12/18. 

Paul Maskey, Sinn Féin MP for the area, condemned the attack and urged anyone with information come forward.

"This attack on the driver and ticket inspector on Northumberland Street on Thursday night is shocking and I condemn it utterly," he said.

"This must have been a very frightening experience for the driver and inspector and I wish them a speedy recovery from their injuries.

"No one should have to face incidents like this and people should be able to go about their business free from fear or intimidation.

"I would encourage anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI."

Translink has also condemned the attack as serious and offered a reward to anyone who brings forward information that results in a conviction.

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