Northern Ireland news

Bus hijack comes just months after similar attack in west Belfast

The morning after a bus was hijacked and burned out on the Shankill Road in west Belfast in April. Picture by Mal McCann

THE hijacking of a bus in Newtownards comes just months after a similar attack in west Belfast during loyalist rioting in April.

A Metro bus was hijacked and set alight by rioters at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill on April 7.

The driver of the double-decker 11B, which operates along the Shankill Road, was ordered off the bus, along with his passengers, before it was petrol-bombed.

Dozens of Translink services were suspended or diverted following the attack.

Translink drivers in Belfast later staged a protest.

The scenes were reminiscent of the worst days of the Troubles, when buses were frequently hijacked.

Rioting against the Northern Ireland Protocol - a measure agreed as part of the Brexit withdrawal deal - broke out in Derry on March 29 and later spread to other areas including Ballymena, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus and Belfast.

The disorder was the worst violence the north had seen in years.

Nearly 90 officers were hurt in sporadic rioting.

Loyalists had staged protests against the Protocol, which has effectively created a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The main unionist parties remain strongly opposed to the Protocol.

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Northern Ireland news