Colleagues supporting driver after bus hijacked and torched in Newtownabbey

The driver of a bus hijacked and set alight near Newtownabbey’s Rathcoole estate last night (Sunday) has been left badly shaken following the incident.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 8:36 am

The 2e Metro bus was set on fire near the junction of Church Road and West Crescent shortly before 8pm.

It was reported to police that four men got onto the bus and ordered the driver and passengers off before the vehicle was then set alight.

Church Road in Newtownabbey remains closed between O’Neill Road and the Abbeycentre Shopping Centre with diversions in place.

A bus was destroyed after it was hijacked and set on fire in Newtownabbey. Photo by Kelvin Boyes // Press Eye

Police added that motorists can expect delays in the area on Monday morning and are asked to seek alternative routes if possible.

A Translink spokesperson said: “The driver and small number of passengers safely disembarked. Our driver is badly shaken and is currently being supported by colleagues.

“We are very disappointed by this intimidating attack on our member of staff and public transport services in the area. We utterly condemn this behaviour and will be working closely with the PSNI to investigate this incident”.

The incident was also condemned by Infrastructure Nichola Mallon , who said: “It is disgraceful and disgusting that our public transport workers have been targeted for attack again, this time by masked men who ordered the driver and passengers off a bus this evening and then set fire to it. This is the fourth attack this year.

“Translink buses are public assets. Without them people can’t get to and from work, or school, or hospital appointments. Our bus drivers are working class people who deserve to be safe in their jobs. People using public transport also deserve to feel safe and be able to go about their business without fear.

“The criminals behind these reckless and cowardly attacks have done nothing more than harm their local community, depriving them of a critical public service. It is another extreme act of self harm consistently rejected by the people of Northern Ireland.

“My Department and Translink are working closely with the PSNI. I am thankful that the driver and passengers are now safe after what must have been a terrifying experience. All efforts will be made to ensure those responsible are caught, stopped and brought to justice.”

It is the second time in a week that a bus has been hijacked and burnt in Northern Ireland. In a similar incident last Monday morning, masked men set a vehicle alight in Newtownards, Co Down.

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