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Police investigate loyalist bandsmen train songs

A passenger travelling between Derry and Belfast complained that a number of loyalist bandsmen chanted sectarian slogans
Seamus McKinney

Police have been called in to investigate a sectarian incident on board the Derry to Belfast train.

A passenger on the train on July 25 complained when a number of loyalist bands men boarded at Ballymoney and started singing sectarian songs. The passenger alleged the bandsmen also started chanting "kill all taigs" and "kill all fenians".

Translink confirmed last week that it was investigating the allegation as well as criticism of one of its members of staff arising from the alleged incident. Now the company has confirmed to SDLP MLA John Dallat that it has asked police to investigate the incident.

Mr Dallat said he met Translink chairman Frank Hewitt and chief executive David Strahan to discuss issues including the incident on the Derry to Belfast train.

The east Derry assembly member said: "This railway is the jewel in the crown of Northern Ireland Railways with a success story which must be the envy of any railway in the world. It has broken all records in the increase in passengers carried and is making a considerable contribution to the towns it travels through.

"This makes it all the more disappointing that a small and unrepresentative number of people decided to abuse the privilege of travelling on the train to engage in sectarianism which upset other passengers and created a totally false impression of a truly first-class service travelling through some of the most scenic areas in the country."

Mr Dallat said it was important that those involved in what he described as "offensive racist" songs were identified.

"My wife and visitors from Romania and Germany travelled on the train two hours later and had a completely different experience to what happened earlier. When I met them in Derry they could not be more praiseworthy of the high standard of the train but also the scenery they had passed through," he said.

"What a shame that anyone would want to create something different," he said.

Mr Dallat said Translink must ensure that no passenger using the Derry to Belfast line felt intimidated.

"The line also provides a very important economic benefit to the north west. We cannot let sectarian thugs endanger this service; too many people have worked too hard to build it up," he said.

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