Translink withdraws Belfast bus service after fourth night of attacks by stone throwing youths
A trade union representing bus drivers has hit out after a Belfast bus service was attacked by youths for the fourth night in a row.
On Tuesday night, a group of youths in the Lagmore area threw stones at a Metro bus and also attacked a Translink car which had been monitoring bus services in the area due to repeated antisocial behaviour.
Translink has decided to withdraw the 10D services after 6pm until tomorrow morning because of the attacks.
Davy Thompson of Unite the Union, which represents Translink bus drivers, said this was the fourth night of attacks on services in the area and called on those involved to be held responsible.
"These acts of mindless violence threaten not just the safety of bus drivers but that of passengers," he said.
"Unfortunately there is a history of attacks on bus services in the Lagmore area and services only recently returned to the estate after assurances were provided by local political and community leaders.
"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.
"This assault on these workers is by extension an attack on every worker in Northern Ireland.
"Unite will be discussing our response to these attacks with our members – but their safety and the safety of the travelling public must be prioritised.
"If anyone has information about these attacks we are calling on them to provide it to the police or Translink so that those responsible can be brought to book for their actions."
A Translink spokesperson said: “This is not a decision that we have taken lightly, as we realise that removing services impacts our customers, but this is in the interests of safety of our staff and passengers.
“We utterly condemn anti-social behaviour and we would urge parents to ensure they know where their children are and what type of activity they are engaging in.
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. Translink
“We are working closely with the PSNI, community and elected representatives to identify the individuals involved in this anti-social behaviour and to safeguard continued operation of services to the area”.
Posting on social media, Daniel Baker, a Sinn Fein councillor for the area, said: "This is totally unacceptable as we could lose our service if this continues. I am really disappointed this is happening and will be holding a multi-agency meeting asap.
"We must protect our public services, the minority cannot hold us to ransom."
Sergeant Claire Lloyd said: “We received a report around 8:05pm on Saturday 16th February that youths had thrown a brick at a bus in the Lagmore Road area of Dunmurry, smashing a side window. It’s believed this occurred just after 8pm. There were no injuries reported.
“On Monday, 18 February, shortly after 9:15pm, it was reported two buses had been stoned by youths at the top of Lagmore Avenue at the mini roundabout. No damage was reported.
"A short time later, however, just before 9:25pm we received a further report that another bus had been attacked and a door window had been smashed. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.
"Last night, Tuesday 19 February, just after 9:10pm it was reported that a bus had been attacked by a group of approximately seven to eight youths. It was reported the youths threw objects at the bus and then attempted to gain access to the bus as it was driving past, and to a white Dacia Duster car. It's believed this occurred around 9pm and the youths involved wore dark coloured track tops, with the hoods pulled up.
“Approximately half an hour later, around 9:40pm, we received a report of criminal damage to the same white Dacia Duster within the vicinity of Mount Eagles Way; that a torch had been used to smash the rear window. Police conducted a check of the area, but no youths were located in the area.
"I would like to hear from witnesses or anyone who can identify those involved in these incidents.
I also want to make a direct appeal to those involved - stop this senseless and dangerous criminal behaviour. Sergeant Claire Lloyd
"You are risking the safety of everyone aboard these buses, other young people, the elderly and families when you target them like this. A criminal record could impact on your future.
"It is essential that parents and guardians know where their young people are gathering, to ensure they are not getting involved in this type of reckless behaviour
“It's not about spoiling fun, this is about keeping people safe.”
“Anyone who witnessed what occurred should contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 1385 of 28/12/18.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital