Northern Ireland news

Fans baffled at decision to run Derry GAA train from Belfast

GAA fans have criticised Translink's decision to run a special train to Saturday's All Ireland semi-final from Belfast instead of Derry
Seamus McKinney

GAA fans have been left baffled by Translink’s decision to run a train special to Derry’s All Ireland semi-final in Croke Park from Belfast rather than Derry.

Thousands of supporters are expected to converge on the Dublin venue on Saturday to see Derry take on Galway.

But a rail lobby group, Into the West, has criticised Translink's decision to run the special train service from Belfast, describing the move as “absurd”.

Spokesman Steve Bradley said while the decision to run a Croke Park train was welcome, it was “ridiculous” that the journey started and ended in Belfast, a full 30 miles from the Derry border.

"If it’s for Derry it needs to leave from Derry,” he said.

The matter has also been taken up by SDLP assembly member, Sinead McLaughlin, who said she has been in touch with Translink urging them to extend the special train to Derry.

"I can understand the frustration of Derry GAA fans following Translink’s announcement that they are introducing a special service to take fans to the All Ireland semi-final in Dublin on Saturday, given that remarkably it’s running from Belfast and not Derry,” she said.

Translink’s decision also produced an angry response online.

One Derry fan described the move as “surely a joke”, while another said it made no sense not to be travelling from the city.

More than 750 people signed a petition within 24 hours of its launch demanding that Translink extend the service to Derry. Organisers of the online petition said there was still time to re-route the train.

Organisers said: “We are calling on Translink to ensure that this service is routed through county Derry, starting in Derry city and stopping at Coleraine and Bellarena (for fans from the Limavady area)".

A spokeswoman for Translink said the organisation was operating a number of options for the game.

"There are coach specials leaving Foyle Street in Derry-Londonderry, Dungiven and Maghera to Dublin," the spokeswoman said.

"A rail special is also running from Belfast to Dublin (return) on Saturday for those wishing to travel by train.

"Passengers can use scheduled services to connect with this train. We will assess requirements from bookings for onward connections for the return journey as the week progresses, subject to demand."

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