Bus driver praised after bomb ordeal

The scene at Northland Road after a suspicious object was left on board a bus last month. DER4713JM100
The scene at Northland Road after a suspicious object was left on board a bus last month. DER4713JM100

Stormont’s Transport Minister has praised the bravery of an Ulsterbus driver ordered by masked men to drive a bomb to a police station in Derry.

It is understood two masked men boarded the bus in the Ballymagroarty estate last night and told the driver to take the device to Strand Road Police Station.

Around 10 passengers were on board at the time. The female driver abandoned the bus on the Northland Road and contacted the PSNI.

Police this morning confirmed the device was viable.

The North’s Transport Minister Danny Kennedy said the driver “showed immense courage under very difficult circumstances.”

“I want to first praise the bravery of the bus driver who had to deal with this frightening situation,” he said.

Derry’s MP Mark Durkan also paid tribute to the “courage and resilience” of the driver.

“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.

“The fact that she coped so well is no thanks to those behind this calculated malice.

“We are all thankful that we have been spared the horrendous outcome that was intended – thanks to the courage and resilience of this woman in such terrible circumstances.”

Around 70 nearby homes were evacuated during last night’s alert.

Local politicians have condemned the incident.

Sinn Féin councillor Eric McGinley said the disruption caused “serves no purpose.”

“I would call upon anyone involved in this type of activity to desist; they are going against the will of the vast majority of the people in this area who have indicated that they want to move forward without this type of disruption,” he said.

SDLP councillor John Boyle said the incident was “a source of real distress for the bus driver, passengers and people whose homes were evacuated on what was one of the coldest and blustery nights of the winter.”

Police have urged anyone with information to contact them.