In order to safeguard the safety and welfare of drivers and passengers, the Glider will turn at the Michael Ferguson roundabout and not travel to the Colin Connect terminus, where the attacks occurred.
Unite workforce reps to seek clear assurances from community representatives, PSNI and company in urgent meeting tomorrow
Unite Regional Coordinating Officer for workers in Translink, Northern Ireland’s public transport provider, Davy Thompson confirmed that his union – which represents both drivers and Custom Revenue Protection Officers (CRPOs) on Glider services – confirmed that services would be withdrawn to the Michael Ferguson roundabout, short of the Colin Connect terminus, after two separate incidents in which windows were smashed by youths.
“These reprehensible attacks threatened the lives of both the travelling public and our members. The drivers and CRPOs have been left with no choice but to end the Glider service at the Michael Ferguson roundabout – short of the terminus at Colin Connect – to guarantee the safety and welfare of all concerned.
“We recognise that, unfortunately, this decision will result in huge disruption and suffering for the local community who use the Glider service but these attacks threaten life and limb – the responsibility for this outcome lies entirely at the feet of those who attacked the vehicles.
“Unite will be seeking urgent meetings tomorrow with local community representatives, the PSNI and management to seek assurances that these attacks will stop. If they do not, the withdrawal is likely to become a suspension – with the same approach taken as with attacks on Metro services”, Mr Thompson said.
Chair of the Metro and Gliders’ drivers’ Unite union branch, Michael Dornan, explained the background to the service withdrawal:
“Today, there were two separate attacks on Glider services – both at Lagmore by large numbers of youths. In the first incident, a window was broken but thankfully did not give way – saving a young female passenger from what would have been a very serious injury. Nonetheless the girl was left in a state of shock.
“In a second attack a group of approximately seventy youth had to be put off for not paying – they then viciously attacked the Glider and broke windows.
“These are only the latest in a series of attacks on Glider services. The CRPOs, members of our union, who inspect tickets have been subjected to routine abuse for months now – many report being consistently spat at and attacked verbally by youths in anti-social behaviour incidents throughout the West Belfast route.
“Now the drivers are feeling the same pressure. The workers are getting no protection from the company – there are no support cars.
“Our union fought hard to secure the Glider service and then we had to fight to protect the routes. We believe passionately in public transport and we are rightfully proud of the Glider service but we have to put first the safety and security of drivers, CRPOs and the travelling public. We know that the people of the area – our customers – will suffer but we have been left with no choice. Indeed if things don’t improve, with real action from community reps, the police and management, we may be forced to withdraw the service throughout the entirety of the West Belfast route”, Mr Dornan concluded.