Belfast Telegraph

Metro drivers threaten to stop Falls Park bus services after attacks

By Claire Williamson and Michael Sheils McNamee

Metro Bus drivers have threatened to withdraw their services from the Falls Park area following a spate of attacks on buses.

On Saturday night three buses were attacked in the area, and in one incident a child was covered in broken glass.

Speaking about the attacks, Unite deputy regional secretary Jackie Pollock said: "Our drivers are now seeking assurances from community representatives that these attacks will be stopped or else they will be forced to divert and then withdraw services from these areas."

Speaking on behalf of Metro Bus drivers, chair of the metro drivers' branch of Unite Michael Dornan said: "These reckless and indiscriminate attacks could have led to serious injury to drivers or to passengers and should be condemned by the whole community.

"One of our drivers was severely traumatised and was unable to continue work whilst one of the other attacks could have led to a young baby being blinded or worse."

Following the anti-social incidents over the weekend in which it was reported a large crowd of young people ran amok in west Belfast two 15-year-old boys have been arrested.

Police said at around 6.40pm it was reported that young people were drinking and playing loud music in the Falls Park.

Officers attended along with Belfast City Council staff and carried out searches before seizing alcohol and moving the crowd along.

However after 9.15pm the crowd returned and police received reports of criminal damage to three vehicles travelling along the Falls Road.

Police said stones were thrown at buses damaging their windows and a taxi was damaged when a brick was thrown at it.

Two 15-year-old males were arrested for riotous assembly.

Police said they took a "zero tolerance" approach to the behaviour and that a file will be prepared and forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service.

Posting on the PSNI west Belfast page officers said: "Be warned! You might not be the one that actually throws the stone, but if you are part of a crowd with this common purpose then you are as guilty of the offence as the stone throwers themselves.

"Parents it's time to up your game! Last night's actions endangered road users and led to the cancellation or diversion of buses, affecting ordinary people who were relying on them to get home."

Officers added: "Your children are getting criminal records. It's time to step up and quite frankly, do your job and know where your kids are. We've been saying this all Summer long and for some of you the message just doesn't seem to be getting through.

"Maybe it will when we phone you to let you know your child is the next one to be arrested, but by that stage it will be too late, the damage to their criminal record and future prospects will be done."

In a statement Translink said they "utterly condemned" the anti-social behaviour.

A spokeswoman said: “Last Saturday evening we were forced to divert a number of buses away from the Falls Park due to stone throwing.

“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, both for those on board 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”.

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