Northern Ireland news

New Translink bus service to Catholic school agreed following safety concerns for pupils

Mercy College Catholic secondary school in north Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Paul Ainsworth

A NEW bus service to a Catholic school in north Belfast has been agreed after "weeks of extensive engagements" with Translink after a previous free service by a charity was withdrawn.

Parents and pupils of Mercy College had faced weeks of worry following the axing of the service by the Flax Trust, which was announced last month.

The school is located in the Ballysillan area of the city, leading to concerns that many pupils would be forced to walk through the loyalist area to attend classes.

Education Authority rules mean that there are no free bus services available for pupils living within three miles of their school, but the location of Mercy College in Ballysillan presented concerns for parents of pupils facing a walk to the school.

The Flax Trust charity had operated its free service for five years, providing funding of £635,985 for buses. The service had initially been planned for three years, and the charity said it was "not sustainable for the trust to keep that going".

However, it was confirmed this week that a new Translink morning service is now in operation, while afternoon service replacements are still being discussed.

Two buses will take pupils to the school, departing from the bottom of the Hightown Road at 8.10am and Carlisle Circus area at 8.30am with stops along each route.

North Belfast MP John Finucane said: "Transport to Mercy College has been the cause of anxiety for many parents and pupils.

"After weeks of extensive engagements between Mercy, Translink and ourselves it is fantastic to have confirmation of the below routes operational from tomorrow onwards."

The Sinn Féin MP added: "Services for additional routes and afternoon are currently being explored and we will update you all as soon as it is confirmed."

Northern Ireland news