Belfast Telegraph

West Belfast bus service to be diverted away from area following spate of attacks

By Mark Edwards

A west Belfast bus service is to be diverted away from the Lagmore View area after a recent spate of attacks.

The Lagmore View service was only brought back four weeks ago after it had been withdrawn due to a series of attacks on the bus.

Davy Thompson, Unite regional officer, confirmed that services to Lagmore View will be diverted after a second attack on a driver in a period of three days.

He said: “Following the second serious attack on a bus in the last three days – in which the driver’s side window was smashed with a brick – the decision has been taken to revert to the previous diverted service route meaning that service coverage in the Lagmore area in West Belfast will no longer extend to Lagmore View estate.”

Mr Thompson said attacks on buses in Lagmore View have been an ongoing problem for a number of years.

In the past, services have been withdrawn for a period of months only to return after assurances have been received from political and community representatives.

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Davy Thompson of Unite

Mr Thompson added: “Unfortunately, it now appears that despite those best efforts there are some in the estate who, for whatever reason, are determined that bus services will not operate in the area.

"These attacks are not just targeted at our drivers but the wider travelling public. Although it appears the focus of these attacks is the bus drivers themselves – it is only a matter of time until a member of the travelling public – perhaps even a child – is injured or maimed as a result.

“Sadly the impact of withdrawal will fall heaviest on the most vulnerable in this deprived community.

"As everyone will know, over decades our drivers have taken huge risks to provide services across this city but the safety of our members and the travelling public must come first.

“The drivers want to express their thanks to the local political and community reps for their efforts in this matter. It remains our hope that services might one day return to the area but at present we cannot foresee the circumstances under which that would occur."

Belfast City councillor Brian Heading, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, said Translink and the drivers had made the right decision to temporarily withdraw the bus service.

"It has been an ongoing problem," he said.  "It is a problem with a minority of young people that are putting their neighbours at risk and they could be responsible for causing a serious accident.

"The bus drivers, the union and Translink have no other choice but to protect passengers and staff.

"Until the community and the police are able to remove these young people that are involved in it and explain to them how dangerous there activities are, we will be down one bus service."

The SDLP councillor, addressing those involved directly, said: "They need to realise, if someone is injured on the bus, or the bus is involved in an accident, they could get a criminal record, just because you think it is fun to throw stones at windows."

A PSNI spokesman said: "Shortly before 6pm on Friday police received a report that stones had been thrown at a bus in the Lagmore View area."

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