Bad Santa bus ban protest

A festive protest is planned for Cork today following Bus Éireann’s decision to ban its drivers from donning Santa suits in the run up to Christmas.

Bad Santa bus ban protest

Passengers wearing Christmas jumpers and Santa costumes will protest on board the 214 bus in Cork City.

Michael Howick, a well-known driver on the busy route, has traditionally dressed up as Santa Claus every year but this year he has had to hang up his red suit “in the interest of health and safety”.

And a company spokesperson said: “There is a uniform protocol in place for all Bus Éireann bus drivers, and one of the key reasons for this is in the interests of health and safety.

“All bus drivers must be recognisable as the official driver of their vehicle, and be dressed appropriately to deal with any issues that may arise in the course of a journey.

“Therefore, the company cannot allow for any significant deviation from the standard uniform issued to all our drivers.”

Bus Éireann is instead hosting a carol morning tomorrow in an attempt to appease its dissatisfied customers.

“In the spirit of Christmas cheer, Bus Éireann will host carol singers from The Glen Girls Schools at Parnell Place Bus Station tomorrow.”

Anna Marie O’Shea from Togher is organising the protest on the 214 bus as she said Michael’s Christmas spirit brightened up the journey every year.

“Every child wanted to go on the bus when Santa was driving. There was such a lovely atmosphere and Michael even used to bring lollipops to give out to the kids,” she said.

She feels personally indebted to Michael as he went out of his way to help her when off-duty last year.

“Last year he met me on the road while he was off work. I was going to the hospital following an urgent call from the hospital to tell me that my dad hadn’t long to live. He gave me a lift in his car and if it wasn’t for him there was a chance I might not have got to see my dad before he died.”

She hopes Michael’s co-workers will support their cause tomorrow.

“I really hope that Bus Éireann drivers will show their support to Mick too.

“We’re calling on people to bring musical instruments along tomorrow so perhaps we can have a bit of a sing song along the way.”

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