Buses destroyed in trouble cost Translink £400,000

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Translink has confirmed the destruction of two buses during trouble in Rathcoole has cost the company £400,000.

The company has withdrawn services after 1715 BST from the area after a second night of trouble.

A spokesperson said passenger and employee safety was "top priority" and that they will monitor the situation.

The bus driver's union Unite said services had to be withdrawn in order to safeguard drivers.

Speaking after a meeting with Translink on Wednesday, union representative Michael Dornan said community leaders had an opportunity to resolve the situation.

"If they are serious about stopping this civil unrest and if they want a dedicated service for the people that need it then they have the opportunity now to quickly get together and resolve this issue," he said.

A senior police officer has said a UVF gunman was seen in Rathcoole during trouble on Monday night.

ACC Duncan McCausland was speaking after a bus was hijacked and set on fire after its female driver was dragged out of her cab and punched on Tuesday.

Police said children as young as 10 were involved in the disturbances.

The woman was returning to an Ulsterbus depot when her vehicle was hijacked near the Cloughfern roundabout in the mainly loyalist Rathcoole estate, where six cars and a bus were burned out a night before.

Her bus was not equipped with a radio and she did not know to avoid Rathcoole.

She was dragged from the vehicle and punched.

The driver was shocked but her injuries were not serious.

Discussions are taking place on Wednesday about the future of bus services in the area following the latest trouble.

Translink spokesman Billy Gilpin said the bus which was destroyed on Tuesday night had been recently bought for £200,000.

"We do want people to get home from work but we will not be taking any risks with our staff, our passengers or property," he said.