Northern Ireland

Compromise reached in Monkstown estate bus dispute

Bus drivers who threatened to withdraw services from Newtownabbey's Monkstown estate due to robberies have reached a compromise, their union has said.

Metro staff said they feared for their safety after masked men robbed a driver at Devenish Drive on Tuesday.

They had said evening services to the estate would stop at 19:00 BST on Wednesday, but they have agreed to keep the service running until 20:00 BST.

Unite's Michael Dornan said the buses would now terminate at Devenish Drive.

The move follows a meeting on Wednesday which was attended by the union, Translink, the police and representatives of the local community.

'Assurances'

Mr Dornan told BBC Radio Ulster that the union was "very encouraged" by the response to the drivers' safety concerns.

"There has been a lot of support and assurances given on the ground in the later part of this (Wednesday) evening, so because of those assurances, we have come to a compromise with the community leaders and local representatives."

Mr Dornan explained that in addition to services running an hour later, the drivers has also agreed that the buses could travel into the estate.

"Instead of terminating at the Monkstown Road, will actually drive into Cashel Drive and terminate at Devenish Drive at the top of the Monkstown estate, giving people the opportunity to at least get to the estate."

The bus drivers' called the action because they said Tuesday's robbery was the second time in a month that a driver was robbed.

Both robberies happened at the bus terminus at the bottom of the Monkstown estate.

"What our intention was and still is - until we can get the proper assurances - is to withdraw from the actual location of where the robberies have occured," Mr Dornan added.

'Harrowing'

DUP councillor for the area, Robert Hill, also attended the meeting and described the compromise as "a sensible outcome".

He said those responsible for the robberies had not yet been identified but he added: "It just seems to be some youths who thought they could make themselves an easy few pound without thinking about the consequences to their local community and also the bus driver."

Mr Dornan also told the Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme that the Translink employee targetted in Tuesday's robbery had been robbed while driving his bus 18 months ago.

He said the previous robbery on the Lower Shore Road in Newtownabbey was "particularly harrowing" and the driver had been taken from the scene in an ambulance.

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