Halloween is supposed to be a fun-spirited confectionary dream for many of our youngest citizens but for one Cork-based female bus driver it proved to be a night of utter hell. The very popular 220 bus, which passes UCC on a route from Ballincollig to Carrigaline over 50 times a day, became the centre of controversy on the 31st of October after a group of young teenagers threatened to rape the bus driver.
The incident occurred on Halloween night in Carrigaline and has caused a justifiably considerable response from the bus drivers’ union, who met immediately after the attack to discuss their next course of action.
It all started when a group of teenagers, described as being of mixed nationalities, entered the bus in Kilmoney, Carrigaline and walked on without paying. When the driver signalled that they would have to pay or get off the bus they claimed that she was being racist, before proceeding to threaten her with rape if she did not back down. The female driver became naturally very distressed and rang the Gardaí for assistance, leaving the bus in a standstill position. When the authorities arrived, just 15 minutes after the incident was reported, they indicated that they could not apprehend the gang of youths, but did remove them from the bus before incredibly, a private bus was arranged to collect them and bring them home.
Long-time Cork bus driver, Leonard Kelly spoke to 96 FMs Opinion Line following the incident and described the union’s frustration how the shocking event was handled. He said that Gardaí were also abused by the gang, who are supposedly part of a wider network and travel to different areas around Cork to cause trouble and have been named as the RBL, aka ‘Real Black Lads’. This follows a series of other cases involving the same group, who at this stage are well known to the authorities. Mr Kelly has called for transport police to be introduced on night-time bus routes that are at risk of this kind of behaviour.
Attacks such as the one that took place on the 31st October are now common place according to the Bus Éireann veteran, who told PJ Coogan of the Opinion Line that bus drivers are now subject to regular abuse during their shifts. The mother of two would have been supported by other transport users had the incident taken place on the North Side of Cork City according to Mr Kelly, claiming that bystanders from that part of Cork would have intervened in the matter.
When approached to comment on the matter, Mary Crilly of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork mentioned that she also believed that some form of authoritative figure is now necessary on some bus routes. Speaking to the University Express Mary said, “I got a few calls today from people were saying to me that maybe it’s just young fellas saying it in a kind of messing way but they’re not actually going to do it but I think saying it is enough (to warrant punishment) because the majority of boys wouldn’t say it. They shouldn’t just get away with it because they are under 18 and I think we should take this very seriously.”