Bus hijacked and set alight by armed and masked men in Northern Ireland

Driver managed to escape unharmed but left ‘badly shaken’ by incident in County Down

Chiara Giordano
Monday 01 November 2021 11:56
<p>A bus was hijacked and set alight by two armed and masked men in Newtownards, Northern Ireland</p>

A bus was hijacked and set alight by two armed and masked men in Newtownards, Northern Ireland

A bus has been hijacked and set alight by armed and masked men in an incident thought to be linked to loyalist opposition to Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

Police said two men boarded the bus in Newtownards, County Down, at about 6.30am on Monday before pouring fuel over the vehicle and setting it alight.

The driver managed to escape the vehicle unharmed but is said to have been left badly shaken by the incident.

Translink said no passengers had yet boarded the bus, which had been making its first stop at Abbot Drive when the men ordered the driver off the vehicle and poured flammable liquid on the bottom deck before setting it alight.

The hijackers are said to have referenced the Northern Ireland protocol during the incident, according to local reports, however this has not yet been confirmed by police.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP previously threatened to collapse the Stormont Assembly by pulling his ministers out before November if his demands over the Irish Sea border were not met.

He also claimed DUP ministers would “seek to block additional checks at the ports” when ongoing grace periods end – regardless of legal demands from the UK government and the EU.

However on Monday Sir Jeffrey said there was “no justification” for the attack, which would “do nothing to remove the NI protocol”.

He said: “There was never any justification for people with guns on our streets and damaging property - there never will be.

“Thuggery & terrorism will do nothing to remove the NI Protocol.

“Political action has secured progress and must be allowed to continue. Violence has no place in this.”

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis branded the attack as “beyond despicable”.

“There is no place in our society for such acts of unspeakable violence & repulsive intimidation against innocent people,” he wrote on Twitter.

“My thoughts are with the driver and all those involved in this incident.”

Reacting to news of the incident, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Doug Beattie added: “Utterly disgraceful, depressing and stupid actions of thugs and criminals.

“In what way does this help address issues concerning the protocol, it simply hurts their own community. Wise up.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland urged anyone who witnessed the incident or my have had information to call police on 101 quoting reference 444 of 01/11/21 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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