Bus hijacked and set alight in Northern Ireland

At around 6.30am on Monday, two masked and armed men boarded a bus in Newtownards, pouring fuel over it before setting it alight

According to police in the area, the driver managed to get off the bus unharmed but was left badly shaken by the incident.

Politicians in Northern Ireland have condemned the hijacking and torching of a bus in an incident that has been connected to the opposition of post-Brexit border arrangements on the island of Ireland.

At around 6.30am on Monday, two masked and armed men had boarded the bus in Newtownards, County Down, before then pouring fuel over the means before setting it on fire.

According to police in the area, the driver managed to get off the bus unharmed but was left badly shaken by the incident.

This comes after a living wage increase from £8.91 to £9.50 an hour is to be announced in Wednesday’s budget. By lifting the national living wage to £9.50 an hour, this brings it to the real living costs of those living outside of London, according to an independent campaign group.

Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister, the SDLP’s Nichola Mallon, had told the BBC that the two masked men had “muttered something about” the Northern Ireland Protocol as they had hijacked the bus.

The Protocol was designed to avoid a hard border between the two states on the island of Ireland, but there is unhappiness within Northern Ireland that the UK-EU agreement has produced trade barriers between both Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The bus attack has happened on the day that DUP party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson had before appeared to outline as a deadline for the major changes to the Protocol, which his party is vehemently opposed to.

In a statement on Monday, Sir Jeffrey said: “There was never any justification for masked gunmen on the streets of Northern Ireland and there never will be.

“When I outlined DUP action on the Protocol at the start of September I indicated that action was needed within weeks. At that time the EU was saying that fresh negotiations were impossible.

He continued by saying:

“Since then the EU have agreed to table fresh proposals and serious negotiations have reopened with the UK government.

“No reasonable person could deny that this represents meaningful and positive progress. That progress was secured by political action and not violence.”

Sir Jeffrey had also warned that “those engaging in thuggery only undermine these efforts and cement the Protocol more firmly in place”.

UUP leader Doug Beattie has also since condemned the “utterly disgraceful, depressing and stupid actions of thugs and criminals”.

He posted on Twitter: “In what way does this help address issues concerning the Protocol, it simply hurts their own community. Wise up……”

This comes after the UK strategy to reach net-zero emissions by the year 2050 is achievable and affordable, according to the government’s official climate advisers. The Climate Change Committee has said that the plan was the most comprehensive in the G20 and had strengthened the position of the UK as it prepares to preside over the Cop26 climate summit.

And Ms Mallon tweeted: “Our bus drivers are frontline public workers, our buses provide a basic community service.

“These cowards with covered faces have done nothing more than attack their own community.”

Lord Frost, the UK government’s Brexit minister, is due to meet with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in Brussels this week in order to continue their talks about the future of the Protocol.

Last week, talks held in London were described to have taken place in a “constructive spirit” but the UK has warned that the gaps between the two sides remained “substantial”.

Anyone who had witnessed the incident within the Abbot excursion area of Newtownards or has any information about it is being asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 444 of 01/11/21.

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