Bus bomb fears

The army bomb disposal unit approaches the bus containing, what police described as a 'viable device,' on Wednesday evening. (221113lm99). Picture by Paul Brown.
The army bomb disposal unit approaches the bus containing, what police described as a 'viable device,' on Wednesday evening. (221113lm99). Picture by Paul Brown.
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Community activists will take to the streets to escort buses in and out of Ballymagraorty following Wednesday night’s bomb attack.

The move follows an incident on Wednesday evening when a masked man boarded an Ulsterbus in the Ballymagroarty area and placed a bomb in a holdall immediately behind the female driver. He ordered her to drive to Strand Road PSNI station.

The driver drove the bus a short distance to the Northland Road and helped the passengers to safety before raising the alarm. She was said to be traumatised and distressed by her ordeal.

Bus drivers in the city raised concerns about their safety following the incident and held a meeting with senior officials from Translink at Foyle Street yesterday.

Following the meeting, Translink agreed to operate a school bus service to Ballymagroarty today and limited services next week.

Sinn Féin councillor Eric McGinley, who met with Translink workers following the meeting, said the local community supported the bus drivers.

“The bus drivers are understandably concerned following this incident. Community activists in the area will do their part to raise the confidence of drivers and will be on the route for the next few days to ensure that the buses can pass in and out of the area in safety,” he said.

A similar system was put in place in the Galliagh area of the city following attacks on gritter lorries several years

During the bomb alert, more than 70 people were evacuated from their homes in the Northland Road area while bomb disposal experts examined the device.

The city’s PSNI leader, Chief Superintendant Stephen Cargin, said the device was a viable pipe bomb capable of causing death and destruction if it had exploded.

He blamed dissident republicans for the attack.

“The person who put the bomb on the bus said ‘IRA’ so we believe it was one of the dissident groups in the city.”

The incident was widely condemned by politicians, community leaders, Translink, trade unionists and the Stormont Justice Minister, who also praised the bus driver for her bravery.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “I would like to express my admiration for this woman – as well as sympathy to her for what she has gone through. She was doing an honest job serving the public only to find herself cynically subjected to this ordeal – bringing predicament, danger and distress upon her.”

Bus drivers in the city raised concerns about their safety following the incident and held a meeting with senior officials from Translink at Foyle Street yesterday.

Following the meeting, Translink agreed to operate a school bus service to Ballymagroarty today and limited services next week.

Sinn Féin councillor Eric McGinley, who met with Translink workers following the meeting, said the local community supported the bus drivers. “The bus drivers are understandably concerned following this incident. Community activists in the area will do their part to raise the confidence of drivers and will be on the route for the next few days to ensure that the buses can pass in and out of the area in safety,” he said.

A similar system was put in place in the Galliagh area of the city following attacks on gritter lorries several years ago.