Northern Ireland news

Bus service to Lagmore View estate in west Belfast withdrawn once more after fresh attacks on drivers

Metro buses are to be suspended once more from the Lagmore View area of west Belfast after attacks on drivers in recent days
John Monaghan

A BUS service is to be withdrawn once again from a part of west Belfast after a second attack on a driver in recent days, just weeks after it was re-instated.

Metro buses will no longer be travelling into Lagmore View after a driver's side window was smashed with a brick on Friday night.

Buses stopped travelling into the estate in late 2016 after a spate of attacks involving petrol bombs, air rifles and catapults.

Following 18 months without a service due to those attacks, buses only began to re-enter the area four weeks ago. However, drivers have again been targeted.

Davy Thompson, from the Unite union, said that journeys will now omit Lagmore View once more.

"Attacks on buses in Lagmore View have been an ongoing problem for a number of years now. In the past, services have been withdrawn for a period of months only to return after assurances have been received from local political and community representatives," said Mr Thompson.

"These attacks are not just targeted at our drivers but the wider travelling public.

"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."

In a post on Facebook, Sinn Féin councillor Daniel Baker said he was "gutted" at the attacks, adding that "because of the history Translink have removed service until further notice".

He said: "I will be meeting with them (Translink) early next week. I honestly can't stress how difficult it was to get the service returned and local residents were so pleased to have it back.

"It is only a small number that carry out these acts but our whole community pays the price."

SDLP councillor Brian Heading said the decision was "inevitable" in order to protect passengers and staff.

"I agree with Unite's position as the health and safety of both drivers and the general public is paramount. It is however imperative that we work to ensure that the full service is restored as soon as possible," he said.

"A small minority are taking part in anti-social behaviour and must be known to the local community."

Buses travelling along the route were targeted three times in four days in June 2016 with weapons including air rifles and catapults. The following month, Translink withdrew services after a petrol bomb was thrown at a bus in a "premeditated attack".

A resumption of services was fixed for September 1st 2016, but on that day a replica gun was pointed at a driver by hooded youths and Translink withdrew the route once more.

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