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Never been a greater need for political leaders to work together, says Blair

There has never been a greater need for political leaders to work together and avoid hyping up rhetoric, Alliance MLA John Blair has said, following the hijacking and burning of a bus in Rathcoole yesterday.

The South Antrim MLA was speaking after four masked men armed with a hammer and petrol, boarded the bus in the estate around 7.45pm on Sunday, before driving it a short distance and setting it alight. It was the second such incident in a week, with masked men burning out a bus in Newtownards last Monday.

“I cannot condemn strongly enough the latest violence on our streets, including a bus hijacking and burning in Rathcoole, close to my own constituency,” said Mr Blair.

“I would like to pass on my support to the bus driver and passengers, who thankfully were not injured but who will still be understandably traumatised by this deeply disturbing act of violence. Such incidents bring fear to local communities and tarnish the image of Northern Ireland to onlookers. They also seriously undermine the good work being done, by good people, at community level in Rathcoole and elsewhere.

“These incidents have been reported to have been in connection to dissatisfaction with the Northern
Ireland Protocol, following other such occurrences, the effects of which are still impacting some areas. There appears to be increasing violence since the expiry of supposed political deadlines on the Protocol.

“When political speeches or actions raise tensions, they often spill over and affect people trying to get on with their lives. There has never been a greater need for political leaders to work together and avoid hyping up rhetoric, so we can end these senseless acts of destruction. Hijacking and burning a bus achieves nothing, except terrorising local people. It needs to stop.”