Claims that there were “two vociferous groups of opposite religions” involved in an incident onboard a Derry train which is currently under investigation have been totally rejected.
Translink has issued a letter seen by the Journal after several complaints regarding Loyalist bandsmen who boarded the Belfast to Derry train and allegedly started singing sectarian songs and chanting sectarian slogans.
Police were recently asked by Translink to investigate the incident relating to the 9.10pm service from Belfast to Derry on Saturday July 25th.
In a letter issued to one of the complainants and seen by the Journal, Translink’s Customer Care department apologised “for the inconvenience and annoyance that you experienced”.
The letter states that it was “a very difficult situation” for a member of staff to deal with “as he had two vociferous groups of opposite religions on the same train”.
“The parade that one group had been attending is an annual one, yet we have had no trouble on this train before so felt no reason to employ extra staff as we did not expect trouble,” adding that a member of staff “did ask the unruly passengers to try to improve their behaviour, but it was very difficult for him”.
“In view of this trouble we will consider and probably employ extra staff on the same day next year,” the letter stated.
One Derry man whose son was one of those on the train said that there was no second “vociferous” group onboard.
The man said: “My son and his girlfriend go up to Belfast on weekends shopping and these thugs got on the train at Ballymoney. They came in with crates of beer singing.
“My son and his girlfriend walked up to the next carriage and they all got up and followed them.”
The Derry man said the young couple had raised their concerns with a member of staff on the train but claimed they were told there was nothing he could do.
The local man added that when the train stopped in Derry the band formed up and started marching in front of their car and then headed in the direction of Nelson Drive.
“They are saying there were two gangs but there was nobody else on the train except these guys and about six passengers,” the man said.
“I would like to see if there is CCTV, and surely if that had been the case that there was two groups of different religions police would have been waiting at Waterside station. All we want is the truth, and security on the train seriously needs to be looked at.”
Responding to the concerns raised, a Translink spokesperson said: “On 25 July an incident of anti-social behaviour occurred on a train travelling between Ballymoney and Coleraine. Our staff dealt with this difficult situation in a very professional manner, providing a visible presence to segregate customers where possible and defuse the volatile situation. A full investigation has been carried out including viewing of CCTV footage.
“The safety and welfare of our passengers and staff is our top priority. Significant preparation goes into the planning all major events and private security are deployed where appropriate.
“Translink NI Railways are in constant contact with the PSNI prior to and during such events. However, previous records show this was not a traditional journey made following this event with no incidents previously reported.
“Translink offer rewards of up to £1,000 for information leading to a successful prosecution. Anyone with further evidence should contact NI Railways at 028 9099 9930 where your information will be treated confidentially.”